Mets Merized Online » pitching http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Mar 2015 14:08:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Mets Aren’t The Only Ones In Division Touting Playoffs http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mets-arent-the-only-ones-in-division-touting-playoffs.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mets-arent-the-only-ones-in-division-touting-playoffs.html/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:28:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=175209 bryce harper

The Mets aren’t the only ones in the division talking about stacked rotations, October baseball and winning a championship. On Wednesday, Bryce Harper of the Nationals did some touting of his own.

“It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is. To add a Cy Young, to add a guy that’s unbelievable in the postseason — if you have to go into a five-game set in the postseason, looking ahead like I told you I wouldn’t, but if you have to go into a five-game set against a team, you’re going to have to face Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. I mean, good luck. Because that’s insane.”

“I’m going to bring back a title to D.C. no matter what. And I’m getting chills thinking about it.”

I noticed most of the odds makers updated their baseball futures this week and I thought I’d take a look.

terry collins

Current MLB futures with sportsbooks are giving the Mets +2500 odds to win the World Series and +1200 to win the NL Pennant in 2015.

It’s a slight improvement from January and the over/under has also increased from 81.5 to an even 82.

Straight up odds for the Mets to win the World Series remained at 28/1 ranking 17th overall among all MLB teams, and remaining ahead of the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees who are at 33/1.

Of course the Nationals are the odds-on favorite wherever you look, but the Mets continue to keep improving ever so slightly.

I would love to see the Mets open the season in Washington by taking at least two of the three games. You don’t normally label a series in April as must-win, but considering what’s at stake and how the Mets need to break the stranglehold the Nationals have placed them in the last three years, a series win would make a huge statement for New York. Whatever the matchups end up being, they should all end up being epic pitching matchups and fun to watch.

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MLB Announces Pace of Play Changes for 2015 Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mlb-announces-pace-of-play-changes-for-2015-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mlb-announces-pace-of-play-changes-for-2015-season.html/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:48:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174959 rob manfred

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark and Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, the Chairman of Major League Baseball’s Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committees, today jointly announced additions to baseball’s pace of game program.

The new rules will address four key areas:

1. Managers must stay in the dugout during replay challenges.

2. Hitters must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box during at-bats.

3. The game must promptly return to play after TV commercial breaks.

4. Timed pitching changes. Relief pitchers will have 2 minutes, 30 seconds to get from the bullpen to the mound, throw warm-up pitches and throw their first pitch to the next batter.

The league established a pace-of-game committee in September aimed at making recommendations to speed up games, which grew to a record average of 3 hours, 2 minutes in 2014, up from 2:33 in 1981.

Players who violate the rules will receive a warning, then be subject to a series of fines up to $500.

The rules will begin in spring training, but the warnings and fines will not be imposed until May, as spring training and the first month of the regular season will be a phase-in period.

A statement by Commissioner Rob Manfred said:

“These changes represent a step forward in our efforts to streamline the pace of play. The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly. In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”

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MMO Mailbag: When Will We See Syndergaard? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mmo-mailbag-when-will-we-see-syndergaard.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mmo-mailbag-when-will-we-see-syndergaard.html/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174526 noah syndergaard

Alex asks…

What has to happen before we can see Noah Syndergaard join the rotation assuming he’s dominating in Las Vegas through May? I’m concerned Dillon Gee is still here plus we’d have to still make room for him in the rotation regardless. By the way, I think giving Bartolo Colon that second year was a mistake.

Tommy replies…

I’ll start by stating the obvious: it’s not really an issue with a concrete resolution. Next, I’ll cheat and get the last part of your mailbag out of the way: Colon was good last year, his salary isn’t huge this year, and we’re not committed to him after this. I also still think he has always been and still is tradable under the right circumstances. But you have to overpay on the open market. I don’t think $11 million was much considering the star-caliber year Bartolo had the year before we signed him, I don’t think he was a bust at that amount last year, and I don’t think there’s too much risk for him this year. Even if he might end up being a bit overpaid, Colon is not a guy who relies on power or athleticism… I don’t really dislike the deal, even the second year. He’s a workhorse, we’re going to need guys to eat innings (insert eating joke here) with such a young pitching corps.

As for Syndergaard… didn’t we trade him this winter for a shortstop or a young, controllable bat in the outfield who can make an impact right away? No? Alright, let’s get into it then…

First of all, I don’t expect Noah to dominate statistically in Triple A, even when he’s ready. Las Vegas is a terrible place for pitchers, so we shouldn’t expect him to post eye-popping stats that scream, “call me up” down in the minors. If he does, that makes things a bit more complicated.

If the Mets like the way he’s pitching, the next barrier would be the Super 2 cutoff. The Mets likely won’t call him up before May because they don’t want him to accrue a full year of service, but they’ll likely want to avoid paying him four years of arbitration rather than three as well, so that would make the Mets inclined to wait until June or maybe even July.

The next obstacle is, as you alluded to, rotation space. Right now, there are already 6 guys for 5 spots: Dillon Gee, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, and Jon Niese. Gee could get traded, but it’s looking like that won’t happen (if it does, a deal should develop soon, because the James Shields domino just fell). So in all likelihood, we have 6 guys for 5 spots, with Gee likely to begin the season in the bullpen if he’s still on the roster.

But in the words of Terry Collins, “Sh*t happens.” Somebody might get hurt. Heck, somebody probably WILL get hurt. Maybe two guys. Maybe Harvey, who relies on his slider and plays for a snake-bitten franchise, doesn’t have a perfect, uninterrupted return from Tommy John surgery. So my gut tells me the Mets might do well not to make moves for the sake of making moves and having only 5 guys for those 5 spots… because if they do that, they might soon find they only have 3.

Maybe a trade mid-season helps to clear things up for Noah. Maybe Noah is himself traded in a summer deal. But if the Mets think Noah is ready, and they somehow have avoided bad luck in their rotation, do they call him up? That’s the question.

I say they should leave him down there, because even if they say he’s “ready,” he’s still so young and can only continue to develop and improve. You could argue that he might reach the point where the only way he can improve is to face MLB hitting, but I’m not sure how quickly he’d get to that point. The Mets don’t need to be in any rush. If he forces their hand, and the Mets rotation remains intact and nobody is performing badly enough to flat-out lose their spot, I think they leave Noah in Vegas, and wait until there’s an opening.

A more out-of-the-box solution would be to go with a 6-man rotation to give Harvey some rest, but that might disrupt the other pitchers. Having Gee in the bullpen available to make spot starts would probably be a better way to keep some stress off of Harvey.

If you’re thinking “Hey, this Tommy jerk didn’t give me an answer,” I think I did, but if I had to give you a very concise one, I would say: The Mets need to see Noah Syndergaard performing in Las Vegas at a MLB ready level, and need to have a reason (or an opportunity, or an excuse, or a way, or whatever label you want to use) manifest in Flushing to warrant (allow, enable?) them to summon Thor.

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MMO Exclusive: Talking Mets With Best-Selling Author Jeff Pearlman http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mmo-exclusive-talking-mets-with-best-selling-author-jeff-pearlman.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mmo-exclusive-talking-mets-with-best-selling-author-jeff-pearlman.html/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 16:59:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174283 Here is an interview I conduced with author and Sports Illustrated columnist Jeff Pearlman, who wrote the New York Times bestselling book on the New York Mets, “The Bad Guys Won”. The book is a must read and is available at Amazon.com. Enjoy.

the bad guys wonMMO – The Mets came out like gangbusters this offseason and signed Michael Cuddyer to a two year, $21 million dollar contract as soon as free agency started. However aside from picking up a bat for the bench, it ended up being all they did. Did they do enough to win 89 games as Sandy Alderson said on MLB Network, and is this a team that will be playing October baseball as the manager and players are saying?

Jeff – No. They remain a bad team with some good young pitching. But that wasn’t much of a splash, and you have a franchise player (David Wright) in decline, a painfully sub-mediocre lineup and a thin bench. Eighty nine losses are much more likely. Bummer.

MMO – The Mets currently have six very capable MLB starters for their rotation, plus three more top pitching prospect who are MLB ready – or close to it – in the minors. It is often said that you can never have enough pitching, and Sandy reiterated that on Monday. He’s been getting a lot of heat for not moving one of his pitching prospects to fill a glaring need at shortstop. Is he doing the right thing by hanging onto all this pitching depth?

Jeff – No, they need offense, they need a shortstop. Right now they’re dealing from a position of pure strength—because potential is the most enticing drug in sports. Of those six pitchers, how many are truly going to become great? Not just Bobby Jones or Craig Swan, but legitimate 15-to-20-game winners? Maybe two—max. But we don’t know. No one knows. So trade now, and hope you’ve peddled the right ones.

MMO – Can you draw any comparisons between the 1986 Mets team that your best-selling book was based on and this Mets team? Are there any similarities in makeup, style, philosophy, etc.?

Jeff - Honestly, I see none. That was a very special and unique cast of characters. This is a so-so Met team playing in a blah era.

MMO – Give me a preseason prediction. Who are the three division winners in the NL and your two wild cards.

Jeff – Nationals, Pirates, Dodgers, (WC: Cardinals Giants)

MMO – If the Mets could do one thing better than they showed last season, aside from winning more games, what should they work on improving?

Jeff - You touched on it, but they need a competent shortstop in the worst way imaginable. It’s not a singular skill, but it’s a gaping hole that has sat there, oozing and open, since Jose Reyes left.

MMO – Is Terry Collins the manager to lead this team to the postseason? Give me your thoughts on him as a manager.

Jeff – I honestly think Terry Collins has done wonders with a shit roster. I’m not saying he’s Joe Torre, but look what he’s been handed. A bunch of young pitchers and a brutal offense. What do people expect of him? Seriously? As for the playoffs—I doubt it. Because I think, by the All-Star break, Wally Backman is managing.

MMO – Speaking of, why is Wally Backman still toiling in the minors and do you think we’ll ever see him as a major league skipper someday, perhaps even guiding the Mets?

Jeff – Wally is a great guy and a motivational manager who’s had some legit success. But the whole domestic violence thing has plagued him. He’s also a bit unpredictable—chasing down reporters after games in indy ball, etc. So … it’s been hard. But he’d be perfect for a young team like the Mets. Kids listen to him.

MMO – The Madoff situation is in the rear view mirror (so they say) and It’s been 5 years since Alderson replaced Minaya. Did the Mets finally fix their image problem?

Jeff – No. They fix it when they’re good. Madoff was brutal, but it’d be significantly less brutal had the team been winning 95 games a year.

MMO – Ken Rosenthal pointed some sharp criticism at Mets ownership last month, calling their bottom 10 payroll an embarrassment for a team in MLB’s number one market. Fair or foul?

Jeff – 100% fair. If you’re gonna charge this much for tickets, parking, food, etc, and you’re playing in New York, you can at least spend money on players and try to win.

MMO – Who will be this season’s biggest free agent busts?

Jeff – No way Jon Lester can live up to the money. No possible way. I also hate the addition of Hanley Ramirez in Boston. He’s a paycheck player and a locker room fungus. Never met a player who liked him.

 MMO – Who will be the first manager to get fired in 2015?

Jeff – Terry Collins. Sorry.

MMO – Which MLB teams improved the most this offseason?

Jeff – I love what the White Sox are doing, and the Nationals are just a beast.

MMO – Thanks for your time, Jeff. Enjoy the new baseball season.

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8 Things We Learned From Keith Law http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/8-things-we-learned-from-keith-law.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/8-things-we-learned-from-keith-law.html/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 16:42:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174231 keith law

Last Thursday, ESPN senior baseball analyst Keith Law was kind enough to grant our own Tommy Rothman a phone interview which you can read in its entirety here.

Law, who ranked the Mets as having the fourth best farm system in the game and also included six Mets in his Top 100 prospects, discussed a great variety of topics with us and I wanted to summarize what I thought were the eight most interesting insights he shared with us.

1. The Mets Are Drafting Better

“You had the one year with scouting director Chad McDonald, now Tommy Tanous has taken over, he’s had a couple of drafts, and I just think they’ve drafted a lot smarter, especially towards the top. We’ll see if some of the later picks work, they’ve had some later picks that were interesting, those often take a little longer to percolate and show that there’s real value. But I think that they’ve clicked on most of their high picks the last few years.”

“It’s hard for me to really characterize what the draft strategy was under the Omar Minaya regime because I never really got it, I never understood it. Now, they’re doing a better job of just saying “who’s the best player on the board? We’ll take that guy.” They’re not trying to trick anybody, or trick themselves.”

2. Not Sold On Wilmer Flores At Shortstop

“I think he can hit. I don’t think he can play short, I never even thought he was very good at third. I think there’s a real good chance he ends up at another corner, and my question then is whether the bat’s going to profile enough to warrant playing him every day, if he’s in left field or at first base.”

“He’s not very quick, not very athletic, but his feet… I’m very, very surprised that a team that’s clearly aware of defensive metrics would even TRY him at shortstop. I mean really, what are you expecting, running this guy out at short. So no matter what they say publicly, my guess is privately, we don’t wanna go out and spend on a shortstop, we don’t wanna trade the pitching depth yet, and this is the best of the internal options, none of which are good.”

3. Could Mets Keep Young Core Intact As They Get More Expensive?

“They’re not in Rays and A’s territory where they’re just gonna have to move everybody. My guess is, they’re not gonna keep them all. Some of those guys will get towards second or third-year arbitration and they’ll get up towards $10 million a year, and the Mets will decide to pass on some of them.”

4. Still Very High On Dominic Smith

“I still love Dominic Smith, I understand he only hit one home run for them, Savannah has turned out to be a brutal place for left-handed power hitters. I loved him in high school, and I talked to people about him. He really worked on just going the other way, recognizing he’s not going to be able to pull the ball out, so why not focus on making a whole lot of contact, and really using the whole field, particularly going to the opposite field.”

“I believe he’s got plus-plus raw power, at some point I think it’s going to surface, you’ll probably see more of it this year in St Lucie, even more the next year in Binghamton once he gets out of those pitcher’s parks. But I do believe that their best chance for a first baseman of the future is currently in the organization.”

5. Will Mets Ever Make A Mike Piazza Type Splash Again?

“What I would question is, would they go out and get the $22 million player. Guys in that stratosphere. Will they do that? Because the Mets would have, 6 or 7 years ago. And frankly, they’re going to be at a point where getting that player is going to make financial sense.”

“They’re going to put together, say, an 89-win team with homegrown talent, and they’re going to be at the point where getting that elite player makes them a 94-win team, which is a real playoff contender. …If I were a Mets fan, that’s what I would be focused on. Eventually you’re going to want them to get the 6-WAR player, one of those guys hits free agency every year and you want to make sure the Mets are going to do that, when it makes sense, when those 6 wins are going to put them into the playoffs.”

6. Mets Shortstop Of The Future

Amed Rosario is a star, he’s in my top 100. Gavin Cecchini, he’ll play for somebody because he can play shortstop. He’s not a lock to be an average regular, there are still a lot of variants as to how he turns out. At some point, the Mets will have to make decisions that will probably end up favoring Rosario over Cecchini, because Rosario has a chance to move very quickly through the system due to his bat.”

“Rosario has such an advanced approach, he’s just so… he’s just so freakishly talented. I have a feeling they’re going to have to push him a put more quickly through the system to get him to the point where he’s appropriately challenged by pitching. Going through the four levels of the minors, I could see him doing it in three years, maybe two-and-a-half if he’s just as gifted as I believe he is. The swing, bat speed, it’s all there, it’s just a matter of pitch recognition, ball-strike recognition.”

7. Will Mets Be Buyers If They Are In Thick Of It?

“I think that everything they’ve done and said so far indicates that they’re not going to be buyers. They’re not going to trade a bunch of the young guys to get a veteran, to get an established, older Major League player.”

“I think if the opportunity came up to get the Wil Myers type, the young player who’s in his peak years or they’re still ahead of him, where the money hasn’t gotten big yet, I think that they would do something like that. So they’re opportunistic, but not in a mode where they’re going to say, “yes, we’re going to go get that guy.” And I think part of it is, they’re not likely to win the division.”

8. Mets Chances To Make Postseason

“Ten percent or less. Because it’s wild-card only, and I don’t think they’re as good as some of those other contenders. I think they’re going to be very enjoyable to watch because there’s going to be a lot of home-grown talent on the field, but you’re really hoping Harvey comes back, and you might get half a season of production out of him but they’re not going to want to push him right away. I think 2016 is much more reasonable.”

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Featured Post: DePodesta Explains Mets Strategy To Improve Farm System http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/featured-post-depodesta-explains-mets-strategy-to-improve-farm-system.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/featured-post-depodesta-explains-mets-strategy-to-improve-farm-system.html/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 01:02:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174082 ny_a_depodesta_sy_576

Mike Vorkunov (NJ.com) recently discussed the Mets’ minor league system and prospectswith VP of Player Development and Scouting, Paul DePodesta. Here are some exchanges that stood out. You can read the full article here.

The main theme being targeted here is the position player depth that is rapidly rising through the system.  The Mets were built heavily on pitching at the start of Sandy Alderson’s tenure, but now have a healthy balance of power arms and bats.

Vorkunov: Baseball America’s top 10 prospects came out and the lower half is filled with players mostly in A-ball.  How do you feel about the lesser experienced half of your farm system?

DePodesta: As we looked at it maybe 3-4 years ago, we felt we had some pitching.  We certainly wanted to add to that pitching, but we really wanted to focus on some position players. We had to create another wave of players, not only through the draft, but also through international signings.  I think those bottom five probably reflect that strategy.

Thoughts: DePo is referring to players like Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Dominic Smith, etc. who were drafted very highly overall, there’s a wave of high upside talent in the bottom five, most of whom are still extremely young (6. Amed Rosario, 7. Michael Conforto, 8. Rafael Montero, 9. Marcos Molina, 10. Gavin Cecchini).

Rosario continues to make a name for himself in the minor leagues and he’s done so without compromising his status at SS.  Many scouts still believe he’ll grow into his frame, but he’ll maintain the athleticism and instincts to stick there in the majors.  Cecchini struggled at times in High-A St. Lucie and although he made the top 10 for BA, others are high on Jhoan Urena, a third base prospect drafted in 2011 who has begun to rise in prospect rankings.

Vorkunov: Where do the position players stand in proximity to the major league level?

DePodesta: You look at guys who at least could certainly be ready for Triple-A at some point… Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds will both certainly be there. Dilson Herrera made the leap from Double-A straight to the big leagues. He certainly could play in Triple-A. Brandon Nimmo spent the second half of the season last year in Double-A.  He could certainly be Triple-A ready.  So those are four of our better guys.  Three of them in the top 10 according to Baseball America.  And they could all be in Triple-A at the same time in 2015.They’re very close.

Thoughts: Michael Conforto is expected to have a rapid ascension through the minor leagues as well.  Brandon Nimmo is closer to MLB than him at the moment, but Conforto entered the Mets system a more refined major league ready player who merely needs to prove he can handle the pitching as he advances.  The mechanics and hitting tools are all there, for Conforto it is more about protocol and proving he can execute correctly at every level.

That being said, it’s unclear how many of these prospects could contribute in the midst of a playoff push.  Daniel Murphy may very well be a Met for all of 2015, while Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer are expected to be a big part of the team’s success this year and next. It’s doubtful any everyday room will be made for prospects like Nimmo, but he is one of the many that is certainly close.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds though, there are players blocking their paths, but it’s not written in stone.

Vorkunov: How do these rankings match with internal evaluations?  Are there guys who haven’t been talked about as frequently publicly, but should be higher rated?”

DePodesta: Sure, I think that always happens.  But we don’t have to publicly rank our players. We’ll group them into sort of different categories of what we think they could potentially be… We put them in position where they can get at-bats.

Jacob deGrom was never rated very highly. Juan Lagares was never rated very highly on our prospect lists. I think there are always players that we think highly of or are close to taking their game to another level, which could fundamentally change the perception of them, especially externally.

Thoughts: The lack of performance at the major league level or injuries, has given quite a few prospects the opportunity to showcase their talents when they would otherwise be shelved in the minors.  It’s the natural progression of baseball, or really an opportunity in life, where timing meets talent and a star is born as in the cases of deGrom and Lagares.

* * * * * * * *

As far as the current rankings though, I think it’s difficult to find a pair of pitchers more talented than Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in any farm system in baseball.  I think the Met internal rankings are in line with that of the public, at least as far as 1 and 2 go.

All and all, anytime we get to admire the wealth of talent in this team’s farm system, it’s a rare positive moment for Mets fans.  The Alderson regime still has much to prove at the major league level, but as far rebuilding a depleted farm system with high upside talent, the drafting and development this front office has employed should be considered top notch.

Much, if not all of that, can be attributed to the coaching staffs assigned to developing players at each level, but still, there’s an uncanny rate of success that the Mets are having with prospects these days and it should be recognized.  Out of names like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Vic Black, etc., the team is experiencing a high rate of players translating at the higher levels, if not the majors already.

To me, it’s clear that this team will have an entirely different public image in 2 to 3 years.  It’ll be exciting to see if this organization can win a championship with all of this mostly homegrown talent.  With no promise for a brighter financial status on the horizon, this organization’s only hope for sustained success relies mostly on our minor league pipeline and it looks to be moving in the right direction.

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Syndergaard Among Five Mets Prospects In MLB Top 100 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/syndergaard-among-five-mets-prospects-in-mlb-top-100.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/syndergaard-among-five-mets-prospects-in-mlb-top-100.html/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:00:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173584 noah syndergaard - las vegas 51s

RHP Noah Syndergaard has been ranked by MLB.com as the third best pitching prospect in baseball for 2015.

“Even though he was pitching at home in hitting-friendly Las Vegas, Syndergaard still managed to lead the organization in strikeouts in 2014,” said MLB Network’s Jonathan Mayo.

“The two-time Futures Gamer is knocking on the door with his combination of stuff and command, a fastball that can get up to 98 mph, a curve and a changeup, all of which are above-average offerings. His 3.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his career thus far speaks volumes about what he’s capable of.”

The Top 100 Prospects is put together by prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis and they base it mostly on input from league wide scouts and scouting directors.

MLB released their Top 100 on MLB Network last night, ranking Syndergaard No. 10 overall. Four other Mets prospects made the cut including C Kevin Plawecki (No. 63), LHP Steven Matz (No. 66), OF Brandon Nimmo (No. 72) and OF Michael Conforto (No. 82).

Congrats to all of them.

Syndergaard is expected to begin the season in Triple-A where he’ll be the ace of a Las Vegas rotation that will also feature fellow Top 100 prospect Steve Matz, Rafael Montero, and Cory Mazzoni.

(Updated 1/31)

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How Do You Grade The Mets Offseason? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/how-do-you-grade-the-mets-offseason.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/how-do-you-grade-the-mets-offseason.html/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:00:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173915 Sandy-Alderson-New-York-Mets1

Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated was none to thrilled with the Mets’ offseason giving them a big fat “D” for failing to seize an opportunity to make a bold move in the NL East at a time when the Braves and Phillies are going into rebuild mode.

“New York modestly upgraded its offense but burned a draft pick on an aged, oft-injured player to do so. While the team hasn’t squandered its pitching depth, it still has more than it can use — even accounting for the inevitable injuries — as well as a clear need at a key position. …The Marlins have seized the initiative and bulked up significantly, the Mets haven’t done the same — even while claiming that ticket sales are surging significantly. Yup, still business as usual in Queens.”

Jaffe’s main bone of contention is that when the offseason started he looked at the Mets as being only a few essential moves away from returning to contention and giving the Nationals a run for their money while making a true postseason run.

“Instead, what their fans have had to endure is another winter of head-scratching moves while the organization gives every sign that it is still mired in its post-Madoff financial morass.”

He really takes issue with Cuddyer who he says, at his age and injury history is more of a complimentary player.

“He turns 36 on March 27, has averaged just 93 games per year over the last three and cost New York what would have been the 15th pick of this year’s amateur draft. For a club that’s rebuilding (regardless of their stated intentions and self-perception), there was no reason for the Mets to give up that pick unless doing so brought a game-changing piece to the Big Apple, and Cuddyer isn’t that.”

He also took issue with Alderson’s lack of addressing shortstop after calling it a top priority for a second offseason in a row and says it’s further evidence of this team’s lack of will to change its circumstances.

“It’s not as though potential upgrades weren’t available,” he writes. “Instead the Mets have a pair cheap players whom they’ve jerked around the organization for years.”

“Few outside of New York believe that Flores is good enough to play shortstop regularly because of his limited range. That goes double on a team whose path to winning is through pitching and defense rather than a high-powered offense, and in an infield where second baseman Daniel Murphy is no great shakes with the glove, either.”

It wasn’t all bad, Jaffe lauds the Mets rotation and it’s because he believes it could be one of the best in baseball that he wishes the front office could have done more to support the young arms.

“That wealth of young pitching may be unequaled in the game today and it’s clearly the future on which the team’s competitive aspirations rest.”

Does he go overboard or is his criticism warranted?

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With Declining Scoring Trends, Defense Matters More Than Ever http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/with-declining-scoring-trends-defense-matters-more-than-ever.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/with-declining-scoring-trends-defense-matters-more-than-ever.html/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 16:00:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173279 wilmer flores dp

Small ball and pitching. We remember it, It bagged us a championship in 1969. It was a staple of competitive play in the National League in the early 80’s when Whitey Herzog’s Cardinals made all manner of problems for the rest of the league. It’s also a prominent feature of a current Giants dynasty that seems to win a World Series every other year.

People talk about how good the Nationals are but the Nats were beat handily by the Giants in last year’s NLDS three games to one. I shouldn’t say handily (the games were all close), but it felt that way, you saw it coming. The Giants don’t seem to make mistakes when it counts and the Nats do.

In the second inning of Game 4 with two runners on, Ryan Vogelsong tried to bunt them over and the left side of the Nat infield froze, confused over who should field the bunt, allowing Vogelsong to reach. Then Gio Gonzalez walked Gregor Blanco on four pitches to force in the first run. The second run was scored when Joe Panik grounded out. The Giants scored two runs without a ball leaving the infield, small ball indeed. You knew right there it wasn’t meant to be for the Nats. You can’t do stuff like that in the playoffs and expect to win.

The Nationals were 20th in the league in UZR, and 26th in OOZ (out of zone plays), so they don’t move around well in the field. Their defensive miscues also tend to be concentrated in their infield with Ian Desmond accounting for 24 of their 100 team errors while posting a -2.2 ErrR (error runs above average) … he’s a Jeckyl and Hyde defender to be sure. He’ll make an amazing play on one chance then drop an easy flip the following play (his UZR/150 has dropped from 6.0 in 2012 to 0.1 in 2014). It’s fair to say he’s inconsistent, which has proven to be a liability in low scoring playoff contests. Consider for a moment that both teams scored only 9 runs each over the 4 game NLDS, remarkable. The argument can be made that the single greatest factor that sunk the Nats in the playoffs was their sloppy play in the field.

The Nats believe they have offense and pitching to spare, and when you look at their roster it appears they do. Their only real question mark is team defense which has not been a huge consideration in the modern game. But with dwindling offensive output across the league every run matters and defense is again becoming a bigger factor.

Yunel Escobar, a recent addition to the National infield, is generally known as a good fielding shortstop, however, in 2014 with the Rays he put up a -26 UZR/150, this after putting up a 12.6 UZR/150 the previous year, that’s a 38.6 point negative swing, which is alarming for a 32 year old player with character issues in his past. If Escobar’s 2014 is an indication, he’s not the man to shore up the Nationals’ infield. Additionally, losing Adam LaRoche and moving Zimmerman to 1B further weakens them as Zimmerman is not a natural first baseman.

If there is an opening for the Mets, a crack in the Nats’ armor so to speak, it’s team defense. If the Mets could somehow field a solid defensive team it could conceivably do wonders in closing the gap between NY and Washington. The Royals parlayed some timely hitting, killer baserunning, decent pitching, and outstanding defense into a world series appearance last year.

It is a market inefficiency that’s been largely overlooked. The bias against defense suggests it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference – if you pitch well and hit, you’ll win … but this is the steroid era talking. Run production has dropped off the charts in recent years making every miscue, every passed ball, and every botched double play, a potential game changer.

The Mets as presently constituted are not a good defensive team. Their infield defense is less than spectacular at the corners (with David Wright perhaps a bright spot if he can return to form) and beyond worrisome up the middle. In the outfield Michael Cuddyer promises to be a liability and Curtis Granderson can’t throw. Travis d’Arnaud excels at pitch framing but struggles with passed balls and throwing baserunners out. The Mets made 104 errors last year, 4 more than the Nationals.

In an age when good teams are pitching well, fielding well, and finding ways to scrape runs together, the Mets continue to be a mixed bag.

The Mets more than anything need to find an identity, something they’ve struggled with over the past several seasons. They are known as a patient team with some excellent pitching, but they are below average defensively and can’t seem to score when they need to. More than anything the Mets need some additional speed and athleticism.

They clearly haven’t gone in that direction based on the current off-season. Wilmer Flores is slated as the starting shortstop while Murphy looks to be our second baseman. Cuddyer is the team’s new right fielder, Duda will man first, and d’Arnaud will crouch behind the plate. Yes, some of these players may improve defensively and the Mets should hit more, and that may be enough … but this is by no means shaping up to be a speedy, defensively sound team. You could hide a Flores or a Murphy or a Cuddyer if the rest of the team is sound, but all three? You are asking for trouble when you construct a roster with multiple known liabilities … this would not appear to be a team that can find ways to win the close ones — a problem that plagued us all of last season.

Building roster that clogs the bases and hits home runs is a bygone blueprint. We’re looking at offensive trends that mirror what we saw prior to the steroid era in the 70’s, increasing the value of speed and defense. For all our statistical savvy, it surprises me that this Mets front office has neglected to address league trends that run contrary to their current approach to the roster.

Defense may in fact become the market inefficiency that so many GM’s are searching for as most teams (like the Nationals) continue to consider it an afterthought even though declining scoring trends will inevitably boost the intrinsic value of defensive runs saved. Defense should not be an afterthought … you need look no further than last year’s Royals to see that.

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Go Ahead Sandy, Do It! Trade Syndergaard For A 6-Month Rental… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/go-ahead-sandy-do-it-trade-syndergaard-for-a-6-month-rental.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/go-ahead-sandy-do-it-trade-syndergaard-for-a-6-month-rental.html/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 05:28:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173246 ian desmond

Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog has grown tired of waiting for the Mets to become relevant again and now says that it’s time for Sandy Alderson to be bold and make a trade already for a shortstop.

He believes that Alderson should go ahead and trade the team’s number one prospect Noah Syndergaard plus another prospect for Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.

“If Desmond over Wilmer Flores can inspire fans and players, if he can make the lineup better, if it gives the Mets a legit shot at a playoff spot, they have to do everything they can to bring him to Queens.”

“What if the future isn’t bright and, in hindsight, this year ends up being their best shot?”

I don’t know where to begin as this is kind of a surprise to me, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Most of you know how I felt when the news surfaced last week, that the Tampa Bay Rays wanted Syndergaard plus another prospect like Brandon Nimmo or Dilson Herrera for Desmond. Sandy balked and I applauded him for it. That is an insane price to pay for a six month rental.

That would be worse than when the Giants traded Zack Wheeler to the Mets for Carlos Beltran. Two of our top prospects, or in other words, two consensus MLB Top 100 prospects for Ian Desmond?

Desmond is on record as saying he has no interest in agreeing to an exclusive negotiating window if he’s traded, and has zero interest in signing an extension with any team because he’s committed to testing free agency after the 2015 season.

Desmond has already turned down a seven year, $110 million offer from the Nationals. He is also owed $11 million for 2015, which really isn’t that big of a deal for most teams, but we’re talking about the Mets here.

According to Ken Rosenthal, Desmond likely will command $150 million as a free agent next off-season.

My main concern is this, if you’re going to blow up your minor league system after spending the last five years rebuilding it, is six months of Ian Desmond the player you do this for?

Can you imagine Syndergaard joining what’s already one of the best starting rotations in baseball and seeing him become their ace for the next seven years?

Can you imagine Brandon Nimmo joining Bryce Harper in their outfield and blossoming into the hitter most scouts believe he will be?

Then consider the aftermath when Desmond files for free agency after the season and signs a mega deal with the New York Yankees. Think about that we still may need a shortstop again and we have nothing to show for Syndergaard and Nimmo.

I’m sorry, but I think that would set us back for three or more years.

I can see going all in on a shortstop like Troy Tulowitzki. At least you could make a great argument for that. But Ian Desmond? Really?

Desmond has hit 20-plus home runs and stolen 20 or more bases each of the last three seasons. In 2014, he hit .255/.313/.430 with 24 homers and 24 stolen bases. But how would those numbers translate in Citi Field?

He’s not a high-batting average, high-on-base percentage, high-contact hitter, so he won’t bat leadoff. And to go with his .313 OBP he also struck out a league-leading 183 times. Can you imagine adding all those strikeouts to the ones we have already?

Hey I’m all for making a Mike Piazza or Gary Carter type splash. But my God, Desmond is not that. He’s an upgrade, but certainly not a difference maker. I’m sorry, but I can’t sign off on trading two top prospects for six months of Desmond.

I want this team to spend, but spend wisely. I want this team to make good trades, but not bad trades that are borne out of desperation or because of impatient fans. Or bloggers. We didn’t come all this way to blow it all up.

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MMO Fan Shot: What Run Differential Doesn’t Tell You http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-what-run-differential-doesnt-tell-you.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-what-run-differential-doesnt-tell-you.html/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 14:25:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173008 MLB Opening Day at Citi Field

An MMO Fan Shot by Joey D.

While I expect the Mets to take a significant step forward this season, I have to disagree with the case many make for the Mets based on their run differential last season.

Run differential numbers are useless because of the missing nuts and bolts that are hidden behind it. I will refer to the St. Louis Cardinals who put up equivalent marks as we did in run scoring, runs allowed and fielding. They won 90 games playing a tougher schedule, eleven more wins than we had. Why was that?

It’s because tallying accumulated runs mean very little. I’ve been saying this often of late but it needs to be repeated. Bobby Ojeda said he doesn’t care about the total amounts of runs scored/allowed, it’s the how and when that’s important.

The Mets’ run production was not consistent. They would bunch many of their runs into a few games. They were not reliable to score enough on a day-in and day-out basis, and to churn out runs against tough pitching. Do we forget all the times we were cursing because they lost a tough low scoring game? How often they stranded runners in scoring position? How many times a starter would walk off the mound after a fine performance with either a no decision or being on the losing end to show for it? All those one run losses?

The Cardinals did not have that type of problem. That’s why one has to look beyond the numbers. They had what it took to produce runs proficiently throughout the long 162 game schedule. They would put the ball in play to make things happen, not take pitches hoping to get a better one later in the count. They would move runners along, make productive outs, get the runners in when they needed them.

That run differential had it where the Cardinals should have been an 83 game winner this past year and the Mets an 82 game winner. The Cardinals won 90 and we won just 79 because of what was behind those numbers, or lacking in the Mets’ case.

A Pythagorean explanation would be that the Cardinals got too many breaks and were too lucky and the Mets weren’t lucky at all. But is that really the case and were the Mets really on par with the Cardinals offensively last season? The Cardinals had seven regulars who had a 2.0 WAR or better last season. The Mets had four. The Cardinals had five everyday players with a 110 OPS+ or higher last season. The Mets had Duda and Murphy.

This is why there is such a divide between the saber supporters and those like me who could be called traditionalists. It’s not so much the numbers or the stats, it’s the misuse of that information to make a case for something that isn’t.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Joey D. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at  FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Does Kevin Long Plan To Adapt Mets Hitting Philosophy? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/does-kevin-long-plan-to-adapt-mets-hitting-philosophy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/does-kevin-long-plan-to-adapt-mets-hitting-philosophy.html/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 13:00:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173077 Kevin long cage

In perusing old magazines ferreting unusual sports stories that might be topics on my Tip-Off sports radio show, I found an interesting quote from the New York Mets’ recently hired hitting coach, Kevin Long.

Mind you now, Long had yet to be released by the Yankees and hired by the Mets when he made his comments to Tom Verducci in a piece the noted baseball journalist penned for Sports Illustrated.  Even so, Long’s quote got me wondering if we might  see some some nuances to the Mets batting philosophy once Long begins to work with Met hitters altering a hitting approach that has generated much heated debate in recent years.

The main theme in Verducci’s piece was the impact a horde of young flame throwing relief pitchers had on the game of baseball during the regular season in 2014 and predicting how that impact might even be more pronounced in the post season.  With that backdrop, here’s what Long had to say.

“You really have to rethink you’re hitting philosophy. It used to be that you wanted to take pitches and get the starter’s pitch count up so you could get into the other team’s bullpen. Now if you do that, chances are you’re going to see a better arm coming out of the bullpen, and it’s one after another. I mean look at Andrew Miller. Wow. He’s so nasty, do you want to see him? It seems every team has two, three, four guys with nasty stuff they can go to.”

The ‘used to be’ philosophy Long was referring to sounds an awful lot like the prevailing hitting ideology in Flushing over the last few years. Will Long espouse a different outlook this Spring with the Mets? Is it possible the Mets might turn their hitters loose early in the count in certain situations or with certain batters at the plate in the early innings of contests? Could driving in runs rather than on-base-philosophy become a new standard in the batting approach Long brings to the Mets?

It’s food for thought that lends support to an evolving hitting approach. Verducci packs his piece with pitching and batting stats from 2014 that demonstrate the dominance the guys on the hill had over the boys at the plate. Here are a few.

  • Getting a base hit was more difficult in 2014 than in any previous year since 1972.
  • Runs per game reached lows not seen since before 1976.
  • For the ninth year in a row this year’s strikeouts total reached a record high.
  • Complete games happened rarely, only once in every 41.2 starts. The ratio last year for the Mets was one complete game per every 162 contests with Zack Wheeler recording the only complete game of the season.

You get the picture. It was not difficult for Verducci to build a case that the way teams are using pitchers in the modern game has changed dramatically, thus altering the balance between pitchers and batters with pitchers becoming more and more dominant every baseball campaign.

With flame throwing relief pitchers now a major part of today’s pitching dominance, should teams adapt their hitting philosophies as Kevin Long suggests? We’ll see.

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Backman Expresses Concern About Playing Flores and Murphy Up The Middle http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/backman-expresses-concern-about-playing-flores-and-murphy-up-the-middle.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/backman-expresses-concern-about-playing-flores-and-murphy-up-the-middle.html/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2015 17:01:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172993 wally backman

Wally Backman takes a photo with avid Mets fan Reymundo at the QBC

Always a fan favorite, Wally Backman was a big hit on Saturday at the Queens Baseball Convention where he signed autographs, took photos with fans, and participated in a Q&A panel with ESPN’s Adam Rubin.

Backman, who will return for his fourth season as manager of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s, had a lot of great things to say about the state of the Mets farm system.

He tabbed outfielder Michael Conforto as the best hitting prospect in the organization, and said LHP Steven Matz was the best pitching prospect Mets have.

wally backman las vegas review-journalBill Price of the Daily News did a nice job of summarizing what Backman had to say, as the 1986 Mets hero spent the day raving about many of the Mets prospects and even calling the organization’s pitching pipeline “second to none.”

Speaking about the Mets number one ranked prospect Noah Syndergaard, Backman said “he has the stuff to win a Cy Young,” but also said he has some things to work on. “His command is an issue and he’s slow from the stretch, but he has the stuff.”

Backman spoke highly about the offensive potential of Wilmer Flores, whom he believes will be a big run producer. However, he pulled no punches and said his biggest concern for the 2015 Mets is the up-the-middle defense of Flores and second baseman Daniel Murphy.

“Are we going to be able to turn those double plays that get us out of an inning?” asked Backman. Well that’s certainly the big question heading into the season, no doubt about that.

I really love Backman and just find his straightforward and honest demeanor so refreshing. He’s such an intelligent baseball guy and a wonderful judge of talent. I hope he does eventually get a shot to manage in the big leagues – and if it does happen, I sincerely do hope it’s with the Mets. It just feels right.

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Viola Returns As Pitching Coach For Triple-A Las Vegas http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/viola-returns-as-pitching-coach-for-triple-a-las-vegas.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/viola-returns-as-pitching-coach-for-triple-a-las-vegas.html/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 21:15:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172913 frank viola wally backman

Frank Viola will return as pitching coach for the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s, a source told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

The Triple-A staff is now set as Viola joins manager Wally Backman and hitting coach Jack Voigt who succeeds George Greer.

Sweet Music interviewed for the pitching coach vacancy with the Twins, but Minnesota decided to go with former Met Neil Allen. This will be Viola’s second season with Backman in Triple-A.

If you could only hear how our pitching prospects rave about Viola who is so highly regarded by all of them. I’m glad we get to keep him.

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Akeel Morris Is On The Fast Track http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/akeel-morris-is-on-the-fast-track.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/akeel-morris-is-on-the-fast-track.html/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 14:34:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172888 Morris - Akeel

Mets farmhand Akeel Morris is someone you should keep a lookout for. After a rocky season at Kingsport where he went 0-6 and posted a 7.98 ERA in 38.1 innings, the 2010 10th round pick rebounded extremely well and was lights-out in 2013 and again in 2014.

By lights out, of course, I mean absolutely dominant. In 2013, pitching for the Short Season Brooklyn Cyclones, he went 4-1 while posting a 1.00 ERA. In 45 innings he allowed just 29 hits and struck out 60 batters. He started 3 games before he was moved to the bullpen, where he was extremely effective, finishing 7 games and saving one.

As impressive as the 1.00 ERA and the 12 K/9 are, his 2014 season was worlds better. He pitched for Single-A Savannah, and once again went 4-1. However, this time around, he posted an inhuman 0.63 ERA. In 57 innings, he allowed a mere 19 hits and struck out 89. He walked 22 batters, which brings his WHIP to a minuscule 0.719. This season, he didn’t start any games, coming in from the ‘pen exclusively in 41 games. He finished 28 of them and saved 16.

With all of these huge power arms we’ve been hearing so much about, such as Syndergaard, Montero, and Matz among others, it’s easy for some to get lost in the fray. We have a surplus of young potential closers on the team; Mejia, Parnell, Black, and Familia, but there is another one waiting in the wings. Morris is already on the 40-man roster as a 22-year old, and if he can continue to be this dominant, it shouldn’t be long until we see him pitching at Citi Field.

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I’m Ready For The Return Of Harvey Days http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/im-ready-for-the-return-of-harvey-days.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/im-ready-for-the-return-of-harvey-days.html/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 19:14:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172651 New York Mets Matt Harvey

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN listed righthander Matt Harvey among his 15 Most Interesting People of 2015.

“After six straight losing seasons and some serial belt-tightening under the Wilpon family, the Mets have legitimate reason for excitement behind their young pitching nucleus.”

“A lot hinges on the performance of Harvey, who displayed ace-caliber stuff and serious star quality before blowing out his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2013. He’ll try to return to top form amid a Stephen Strasburg-type innings watch this season.”

Last month, Kevin Kernan of the NY Post caught up with soon to be Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who is very impressed with Harvey, calling the Mets ace “as good as anyone in the game.”

“He’s got everything he needs. He’s got toughness, he’s got desire, he’s got fire, he knows how to pitch, he is a competitor and he is smart. He has the entire package. Harvey is the key to the Mets in every way.”

Pedro added that he enjoys watching Harvey pitch and gets excited when he catches one of his starts.

The plan for Harvey according to Terry Collins is to hold him back until the Mets home opener at Citi Field on April 13 against the Phillies.

The Mets will also pitch him on five days rest occasionally, and may consider shutting him down for two weeks around the All Star break so he would be available to pitch in the postseason should the team make it that far.

I’ll tell you one thing, count me among those who are anxiously awaiting the return of Harvey Days. There was something special about watching every one of his starts that hearkened back to the way I felt whenever Tom Seaver used to take the mound. That confident swagger that you just can’t teach. I wish the 2015 season would hurry up and get here already!

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In Closing: Thoughts On Bobby Parnell and Jenrry Mejia http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/in-closing-thoughts-on-bobby-parnell-and-jenrry-mejia.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/in-closing-thoughts-on-bobby-parnell-and-jenrry-mejia.html/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 14:51:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172287 jenrry-mejia

Among the things I find puzzling with manager Terry Collins is his propensity for making announcements without all the facts. Most recently, he said Bobby Parnell will be next season’s closer, this despite not pitching last season and nobody knowing for sure his physical status.

With Parnell shelved, Jenrry Mejia took over as closer and saved 28 games. Incidentally, Parnell’s career high was 22 saves in 2013.

So, the Mets have two capable closers, and at times last year even used Jeurys Familia and Vic Black in that role. So, what’s the hurry to make an announcement before the Jets fire Rex Ryan?

We are still months before spring training games and have no idea what to expect from Parnell. What’s wrong with going to Port St. Lucie with it open between Parnell and Mejia? (Black and Familia, considering their limited experience should go in with set-up roles.)

Quite a few times this offseason I’ve come across some speculation from others about trading Mejia, something that has been rekindled again with news that the Toronto Blue Jays are now on the hunt for a a closer according to Jon Heyman.

This is exactly what I don’t want to see. I love how some make it seem so easy for the Mets to find a closer if we were to trade Mejia and Parnell turns out not to be ready. It’s as if they’ve been oblivious to the three years of the major’s worst relief pitching before the Mets finally started to turn that around during the last three months of the season.

The second half of last season is not proof enough that our bullpen problems are behind us. Assuming Black or Familia can close simply because they have the stuff to do it shows a lack of understanding that it takes more than just a nasty slider or filthy splitter be a major league closer – it also takes fearlessness, confidence and guts – important attributes that don’t show up in stats like FIP, WHIP and ERA.

Memo to Collins: Shut up and wait for spring training to get underway before you determine Parnell is your de facto closer. Show a little respect and give Mejia the pat on the back he deserves for stepping in and accomplishing what he did under duress.

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Featured Post: Where’s the Boldness and Creativity? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/featured-post-wheres-the-boldness-and-creativity.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/featured-post-wheres-the-boldness-and-creativity.html/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:13:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172052 sandy-alderson-mlb-winter-meetings-850x560

John Harper of the Daily News wonders if Sandy Alderson could learn a few things from San Diego GM A.J. Preller, who took over a franchise with a similar losing history and a weak-hitting roster with depth in young pitching and transformed the team in about five minutes.

“I’m thinking the majority of Mets fans would have been willing to take some risk to add firepower to an offense that has been nothing short of anemic in recent years.”

Alderson, he says, moved quickly to sign Michael Cuddyer, who will be 36 next season, is injury-prone, and cost a first round draft pick.

“In any case, weren’t the trades the Padres made exactly the type of deals Alderson was expected to make at some point, utilizing his surplus of young pitching to obtain a big bat?”

“Instead it seems that Alderson at some point became more cautious about the idea of trading the likes of Noah Syndergaard, the type of high-end arm that other teams want if they’re giving up an impact hitter.”

It looks like the Matt Kemp deal finally became official. In the second half of the season he hit .309 with 17 home runs and a .971 OPS. The deal for Wil Myers is still pending physicals.

Harper says that for most of the last two years, people in the Mets’ front office have admitted that with payroll more of an issue than they expected, they were going to be “creative’’ in upgrading this team’s offense. He wonders where that creativity is and if we’ll ever get to see any of it.

He concludes that for the second offseason in a row Sandy Alderson preferred to hold onto all of his young, power pitchers rather than take the risk of making a trade for a potentially difference-making hitter.

Do you agree or disagree with Harper?

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Who Is LHP Sean Gilmartin? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/who-is-lhp-sean-gilmartin.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/who-is-lhp-sean-gilmartin.html/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:17:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172193 Sean - Gilmartin

Anticipating the Rule 5 Draft can be like looking ahead to a trip to the dentist for an enthusiast of minor league baseball.  Inevitably, players you have watched perform their trade, and, perhaps, even gotten to know a little when attending games at venues like Binghamton’s NYSEG Stadium are on the block, possibly lost to another franchise.  To the minor league aficionado, the Rule 5 Draft is a time of foreboding, a time of dread.

Rule 5 dread and foreboding turned to loss for me this winter when two Met pitching prospects I had come to admire Logan Verrett and Greg Peavey were gobbled up in the draft.  Both were critical pieces of the Binghamton baseball revival over the last two summers, Verrett going 11-5 in 2013, and Peavey, a pitching ace, amassing a stellar 11-3 campaign with a 2.90 ERA in the B-Mets championship season last summer.

I was especially distraught learning the Mets had lost Peavey.  Greg is a standup guy I got to know somewhat last summer, a guest on the ‘All About Binghamton Baseball’ summer segment on my Tip-Off radio show.

But, the Rule 5 draft is a two-sided coin.  On one side comes the hard felt loss of promising guys like Verrett and Peavey.  But, with the other side of the coin comes gain, as baseball teams add other prospects with promise and possibility they pilfer from opposing franchises.  For the Mets this winter that guy is Sean Gilmartin, a left-handed pitcher who last played in the Minnesota Twins organization.  So, who is this guy Sean Gilmartin?

At 24 years of age, Sean Gilmartin has already experienced many of the highs and lows that come with playing baseball.  Gilmartin grew up in Encino, California, a celebrated baseball star at Crespi Carmelite High School drafted in 2008 by the Padres in the 31st round.  A kid who admittedly thought of little else but playing professional baseball, Gilmartin made the choice to forego a shot at the pros to attend college at Florida State.

It was a wise choice by the young left-handed pitcher, because it was at Florida State where Gilmartin’s baseball credentials blossomed.  Almost immediately Gilmartin became an impact player for the Seminoles.  A two-way star who played in the outfield when he wasn’t on the mound, Gilmartin became a ‘Friday night starter’ at Dick Howser Stadium for the Seminoles.

The Friday night starter on a college baseball team is reserved for a team’s ace, a trusted arm expected to bring home a win in the first game of a weekend three game series boosting the possibility of the home team taking the series.  Friday night starters also get to pitch in front of their school’s biggest crowds increasing the visibility and interest of the baseball program on campus.

Gilmartin handled the pressures that come leading a famed Division I baseball staff well his freshman year going 12-3 with a 2.24 ERA.  The lefty ace suffered from the sophomore slump in his second campaign struggling with a 9-8 record, but never lost his status as the Friday night man indicating how much respect he had gained for the Florida State coaches.

It was Gilmartin’s junior season as a Seminole that would accelerate his baseball career.  The long legged left-handed ace was nearly unhittable going 12-1 with a 1.83 ERA and an impressive 0.94 WHIP.  Gilmartin finished second in the ACC in strikeouts trailing the league’s MVP, Danny Hultzen, a second overall selection by the Seattle Mariners in the 2011 baseball draft.  Hultzen, who missed all last season with a torn labrum, rotator cuff and anterior capsule, is making a pitching comeback that should see him back on the mound this season.

Gilmartin, too, went high in the 2011 draft, picked in the first round, 28th overall, by the Atlanta Braves.  Long respected for finding pitching talent, it’s noteworthy any time a pitcher is selected in the first round of baseball’s draft by Atlanta.  Braves scouts considered Gilmartin a quality left-handed pitcher with a great make-up and excellent pitch ability.  They were impressed with the Florida State ace’s maturity and competitiveness on the mound.

sean gilmartin

The Braves put Gilmartin on a speedy track through their minor league system with Gilmartin reaching their Triple-A team in Gwinett in his first year in the pros.  But, Gilmartin never really caught on bouncing back and forth between Double-A and Triple-A with the Braves during his first two seasons as a pro.  When the Braves were looking for added catching depth in the off-season last winter, they shipped Gilmartin to Minnesota for Ryan Doumit.

Splitting time between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, Gilmartin put up the best pitching stats of his professional career in 2014.  Gilmartin started 26 games going 9-7 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.297 WHIP.  Gilmartin’s strikeout numbers jumped, the lefty starter averaging 8.2 K’s per 9 innings with a SO/W ratio of 3.02, both the best in his pro career.

But, when the Twins shaped their 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft, they decided to leave Gilmartin unprotected.  The Mets jumped at the chance to add another left-handed arm to their pitching possibilities.  Here’s what General Manager Sandy Alderson had to say about the addition.  “There’s not really pronounced splits, so we don’t look at Gilmartin strictly left-on-left.  But, we like his athleticism.  We like his makeup.  He’s got a chance to pitch against righties and lefties.”

Alderson may have liked the multiple possibilities that come with Gilmartin.  A starting pitcher his entire career, Gilmartin could provide a left-handed possibility in the starting rotation if Jon Niese was moved in the off-season.  And, as a former starter and someone with decent pitching splits, he could become a long reliever/spot starter on the Mets staff.

Gilmartin also could be used to face that one left-handed batter late in a game.  Gilmartin pitched 23 1/3 innings against left-handed batters in Triple-A last year compiling a 0.75 WHIP, allowing no HR’s, and fanning 27 batters against just 3 BB’s.  Left-handed Triple-A batters hit only .190 against him last season.  It’s the multiple use possibilities of a guy like Gilmartin that probably drew attention from the Mets.

As a kid, Gilmartin lived for baseball and modeled his pitching style after three stellar left-handers Tom Glavine, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.  That’s probably where Gilmartin developed his fluid, almost effortless pitching delivery.  In some respects when he’s at work on the hill, baseball scouts report it almost looks as if Gilmartin is simply playing catch with the catcher’s mitt.

“I try to simplify things as much as possible,” Gilmartin told the Orlando Sentinel when he was first drafted out of Florida State.  And, wherever he’s pitched, Gilmartin has been lauded for his maturity and poise on the mound.  When asked about his ability to stay within himself and not show frustration when things don’t go as he intended on the hill, here’s how Gilmartin put it.  “You can’t play the game that way.  Baseball is a very failure-oriented sport.  You have to know how to handle it.”

Gilmartin’s pitching philosophy is built around commanding his pitches.  He has a four pitch repertoire to use in various situations.  “The aspect of the game I am constantly working on is commanding all four of my pitches and being able to have the confidence to throw them in any count at any part of a baseball game,” Gilmartin told the Sentinel when he was just entering the pros.

Unlike the cadre of young power arms in the Met system, Gilmartin depends more on finesse, on pitching smarts, guile, and cunning to get professional baseball batters out.  Gilmartin has a plan every time he goes to the mound with some well rounded options at his disposal.  His fastball sits in the 87-91 mph range and runs in somewhat on right-handed hitters.  Great command of the pitch both inside and out makes it a steady pitch selection for Gilmartin.

The change-up, a deceptive pitch thrown from the same arm slot as his fast ball and arriving at home plate at 79 or 81 mph, is Gilmartin’s bread and butter pitch.  The change has great arm side fade and drop, and Gilmartin throws it at any count.

A high 60’s/low 70’s curveball has a significant break and 12/6 drop.  Gilmartin throws the pitch consistently for strikes and uses it primarily against right-handed hitters.  Against left-handed batter’s Gilmartin prefers to use his slider, a developing option with sharp, late break.

Gilmartin’s success lies with his ability to keep hitters off balance by mixing his pitches and commanding the strike zone.  Gilmartin has to hit his spots to be effective.

A former number one draft selection, great athleticism, a left-handed pitching option, and maturity beyond his years make Sean Gilmartin a great gamble as a Rule 5 pick for the Mets.  Expect the Mets to provide Gilmartin with every opportunity to prove he can help the big league team this spring.

 

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Mets Odds To Win World Series Are 25:1 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mets-odds-to-win-world-series-are-251.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mets-odds-to-win-world-series-are-251.html/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:35:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172166 sfgiantsworldseries2014 trophy

In their latest Baseball Futures, leading online sports bookers Bovada, cast the Mets with 25/1 odds to win the World Series, tied with the White Sox, Yankees and Royals.

Twelve other teams were favored in front of them with the Dodgers, Red Sox and Nationals the heavy favorites, respectively.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers – 15/2
  • Boston Red Sox – 9/1
  • Washington Nationals – 10/1
  • Chicago Cubs – 12/1
  • Detroit Tigers – 12/1
  • Los Angeles Angels – 12/1
  • San Francisco Giants – 16/1
  • Seattle Mariners – 16/1
  • St. Louis Cardinals – 16/1
  • Baltimore Orioles – 18/1
  • San Diego Padres – 18/1
  • Toronto Blue Jays – 18/1
  • Chicago White Sox – 25/1
  • Kansas City Royals – 25/1
  • New York Mets – 25/1
  • New York Yankees – 25/1
  • Atlanta Braves – 28/1

The Phillies, Twins and Astros hold up the rear with 150/1 odds.

These futures were generated on December 1 and do not include any of the over 150 players that have switched uniforms this month. It will be interesting to see how they change in January and which teams increase their odds for the better.

In a New York Times article, former Met Al Leiter said that fans have many reasons to be excited about the Mets, citing their young pitching. “They could be and should be a playoff team,” Leiter said.

The real shame here is that with better owners the Mets could very well steal the city back from the Yankees who have owned this town for two decades.

When you have the money the Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees have, it’s so easy to overcome mistakes and get right back in the game again in a year or two rather than a 6-8 year rebuilding process. The best free agent players in the game tend to follow the money.

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