Mets Merized Online » Reese Havens http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:05:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 A Christmas Carol: The Sandy I Met http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/a-christmas-carol-the-sandy-i-met.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/a-christmas-carol-the-sandy-i-met.html/#comments Sun, 20 Dec 2015 19:11:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=136501 Actor Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge

Pen went to paper way back in 1843. Even so, the classic holiday novella, “The Christmas Carol” resonates with readers today as one of Charles Dickens’ most important literary contributions. No other character in the beloved novella captures the fascination of readers and viewers like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Many times, my mind shifts to Ebenezer Scrooge when I hear New York Met fans and members of the media characterize Met General Manager Sandy Alderson. For me, it’s almost like many who root for or write about the Mets, have stolen a page from Dickens when they reference the Met GM.

Think about it. Like Scrooge, Sandy Alderson is often vilified as a cold, reclusive figure, a definitive “low temperature guy,” stoic and self-contained. Dickens painted a portrait of Ebenezer Scrooge as a Victorian like miser, a character who symbolized the rich, the elite, protecting only their interests at the expense of the suffering poor.

Fast forward to modern times and consider how many Met fans depict Sandy Alderson. Ditto. In their world view, Sandy Alderson was planted in the Met front office by Commissioner Bud Selig to protect the interests of his friend, multi-millionaire Met owner Fred Wilpon. Like Scrooge, Alderson is presented as shrewd and cunning, a tight-fisted, emotionless hoarder, a guy fixated on protecting the interest of his boss while at the same time immune to the suffering of fans who live and die for the Mets.

To read some comments on Met blogs and fan sites it would be easy to come away believing Sandy Alderson is a synonym for a covetous, grasping, possessive guy with no soft edges. A man who defers to logic and sabermetrics to avoid the warmth that comes with feelings and emotion.

The Sandy Alderson popularly typified by many Met fans and the press is not the Sandy Alderson I met at a Binghamton Met game in early September of 2011.

It was the final weekend of Double-A baseball, and I was in a foul and Grinch-like mood myself. Hurricane Irene had just devastated the tiny Catskill Mountain town where I lived, Binghamton Met baseball would soon be ending, and I was in desperate need of a mental reprieve. I hunkered down in a seat in the top row behind home plate and went about my pre-game statistical recordings that come with keeping score at a baseball game.

I’m obsessive about keeping score when watching a ballgame. Batting and pitching statistics are recorded before the game and then every pitch and every play is charted. For the most part, I’m not approachable as I madly jot down notes in the moments before a baseball game begins.

On this particular day, I was aware someone had appeared in the aisle outside my row. I was sitting in the third seat and glanced up to note a gentleman studying his ticket stub, clearly deciding where he was supposed to sit. An odd feeling of recognition flooded my senses, but I struggled to match a name with the face. This stately fellow sent a ‘hello’ my way as he settled into the aisle seat, which I returned with a nod. Deferring to my statistics, I decided to try and figure out if I knew who this Met fan might be when the final pre-game stats had been logged.

scroogeTurning back toward the stranger I was certain I should know who he might be. He was clearly a man who cared about his appearance, trim and neat as a pin. He traveled without scorebook, notepad or camera, somewhat unusual for a solitary fan sitting in the part of the park where scouts representing major league franchises often assemble. He was busy on a cell phone, tweeting I assumed.

Age has a way of slowing name recognition, but it wasn’t long before the name Sandy Alderson surfaced. Oddly, that presented a dilemma of sorts. I have always followed a belief that people of celebrity deserve some privacy in public venues. Sandy Alderson was at NYSEG Stadium to watch Met baseball prospects not to engage in conversation with me. Yet, it’s always my habit to introduce myself to the folks who sit around me at a baseball game. The social aspect of watching baseball is one of the pleasures of the game. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to handle that divergence.

It was a Juan Lagares at-bat in the bottom of the first inning that was the icebreaker. The B-Mets were playing the Fighting Phils from Reading, and Lagares was the B-Met rightfielder that night. Lagares was on a tear, ripping Double-A pitching at a .370 clip after his arrival to Binghamton. I would later come to believe it was Lagares and Reese Havens that Sandy had really come to see.

Lagares pieced together an uncanny at-bat that lasted 13 pitches with the outfield prospect flying out to the warning track in left field on the final pitch. I leaned towards Sandy and said, “Now that was a major league at-bat.” Knowing what I know now about the Met organizational approach to hitting and the role average number of pitches in an at bat means when evaluating prospects, I would have predicted Sandy’s response to my comment. It was like the flood gates opened and conversation flowed easily between the two of us for the rest of the night.

I made a conscious decision that night not to broach controversial topics swirling around Met land at the time, the hottest issue whether Sandy would resign Jose Reyes. I wasn’t a reporter looking for a sports scoop. My goal was to enjoy Sandy’s company as I enjoyed the company of any new neighbor at a baseball game.

Far from self-contained, Sandy surprised me by peppering me with questions. He had a curious mind and wanted to know everything he could about me. His first line of questions concerned my relationship with the B-Mets. How often did I attend games? Was I a season ticket holder? When Sandy learned I had purchased a game pack, he wanted to know how that worked. What kind of statistics did I take? Did I do anything with them after the game? Where did my interest in baseball and the Mets originate from?

When Sandy learned I lived some two hours from Binghamton and the town where I lived had been hit hard by Irene, the line of questioning shifted. Sandy had seen news clips about the devastation and was clearly concerned. There was much he wanted to know. Was anyone lost? Were folks displaced? What was the extent of the damage? His questions addressed the clean-up, possible damages of my home and property, lodging and provisions for people effected by the storm, anything and everything related to the storm and its impact.

Before long word spread that the Met GM was in the house. A steady stream of Met fans stopped by to chat with Sandy or hawk an autograph. Sandy couldn’t have been more accommodating. He treated each Met fan with the same curiosity and graciousness he showed in his conversations with me, asking people their names or asking questions about them, always obliging, always amenable. I was struck with the sharp contrast between the image of Sandy painted by his distractors and the guy seated alongside me at this B-Met game.

1450639240454I laugh when I read frustrated Met fans accusing Sandy Alderson of not caring about the team he puts on the field. That is not the Sandy I met. Sandy wasn’t shy about asking my opinions about B-Met prospects. He chatted about some of the younger players in the system, and we talked in general about the Mets. The Met GM was constantly on his cell phone getting Met game updates, reporting the score to me with any commentary that had been passed his way. I remember Sandy was especially pleased to report rookie pitcher Josh Stinson had registered an inning of scoreless relief toward the end of the game.

The things about Sandy that most impressed me that night were his wit, his dry sense of humor, and his genuine appreciation for all the unusual things that take place at a minor league baseball park. No two minor league baseball venues are the same. Every minor league park is distinct. Each minor league franchise has it’s own discrete culture with during the game entertainment events that help define what makes them special.

In Binghamton’s case three between innings game events come to mind. Binghamton is a city nicknamed the “Carousel Capital of the World.” To celebrate that fact, the B-Mets have a Carousel Horse Mascot ridden by a Cowboy who throws hot dogs over the screen to screaming fans. “I remember telling Sandy to prepare himself for something he had never seen at a baseball park before and unless he returned to Binghamton would likely never see again.” He laughed heartily at the mayhem that followed.

With a twinkle in his eye and a smile from ear to ear, Sandy was riveted during a mid-game break when a gate in the fence along the left field stands was opened and hundreds of kids poured out on to the field racing across the outfield to exit through another gate on the right field side. Sandy talked about how important it was to connect baseball with young people and you could tell he approved of the youngster’s lap in the outfield.

The clincher came during the seventh inning stretch. I whispered to Sandy that he was in for a real Binghamton treat. During almost every B-Met home game since the franchise began in Binghamton 21 years ago, an elderly gent called ‘Jingles’ dances to his own lively signature song during the break between the halves of inning seven. Jingles stage is located directly behind where Sandy and I sat. Sandy loved it, clapping to the rhythm and cheering loudly with all the other B-Met fans when ‘JIngles’ completed his jig.

In fact, Sandy was so inspired, as he sat back down in his seat, I watched him fish around in a pocket and pull out his ticket stub. Sandy jotted something down on the stub, turned to me and said, “Here. Take this. If you ever get to New York City call this number, and I’ll make sure you have a good time.”

Stunned would be an understatement. By the time the game had ended, Lagares would add a basehit to his 13-pitch at bat. And Reese Havens went 2-5 with a double and RBI. Sandy and I shook hands and headed our separate ways.

Tiny_timUnlike the cold, solitary, uncaring Sandy Alderson portrayed in print, I experienced the polar opposite. The Sandy Alderson who watched a baseball game with me at NYSEG was curious, welcoming, fun-loving, and generous, nothing like Dicken’s Ebenezer Scrooge.

Oh, you probably want to know if I ever called the number on the ticket stub. Not during the remainder of the 2011 season. The Mets were limping along at the end of the year, so I reasoned I might make better use of Sandy’s offer early in the 2013 campaign.

As luck would have it, my son who resides in Los Angeles, came east for a cousin’s wedding. I hadn’t seen him in a year and asked if he would like to catch a game at Citi Field. A huge Met fan, who only sees his team on west coast swings, my son had never visited the Mets new ball park and was eager to make the trip.

I called the number. It hooked me with Sandy’s office. His secretary was great. She made the arrangements for us to see the game. When my two other children learned they hadn’t been included they were not too pleased with Dad. So, tail between my legs, I called back and inquired if there was a chance that there might be four tickets instead of two.

The end result – a magical night for me and my family. The Mets rolled out the red carpet, and we had a blast. It was an evening none will forget.

When we returned home I wanted to do something personal for Sandy in way of thanks. The Catskills and our mountains are famous for maple syrup. I sent Sandy and his secretary containers of home made syrup with a lengthy hand written thank you letter explaining how much the night meant to me and my family and, of course, expressing my thanks. Like the first President Bush, famous for his hand written thank you notes, Sandy impressed me as a similar kind of guy.

Several days later, when I returned home from my morning errands, I had a message on my answering machine from Sandy’s secretary to call his office. I did. After a pleasant chat, she told me how much she appreciated the maple syrup. She added that I had not left a return address on the package, and Sandy had asked her to call and get my address. I chuckled not expecting a thank-you for a thank-you, but sent along the information.

Not long after, a handwritten thank-you from Sandy on New York Met stationary arrived. It read:

John,

Thanks for your letter and the maple syrup! Both will help me through the month of September as we try to get back on a positive note here at Citi. I’m glad you enjoyed the trip here and look forward to seeing you again in Binghamton when I return there.

Regards, Sandy

I hope good fortune brings me together with Sandy Alderson again some day. Far from the Ebenezer Scrooge-like character unhappy Met fans portray him to play, the Sandy Alderson I met is everything Scrooge is not; a self-confident, fun-loving, genial, and generous guy. In the spirit of the Christmas season, I wish Sandy good fortune and good health and the joy that comes with a winning Met baseball season in New York.

An MMO Flashback from December 24, 2013.

mets christmas balls

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Mets Minors: HoJo Loves deGrom, Weighing In On Vaughn, Havens Retires http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-minors-hojo-loves-degrom-weighing-in-on-vaughn-havens-retires.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-minors-hojo-loves-degrom-weighing-in-on-vaughn-havens-retires.html/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 15:19:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140509 Jacob DeGrom

Oh No, Ho Jo…

New Seattle Mariners hitting coach Howard Johnson watched Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero from the opposing dugout while coaching in Triple-A last season, but it was Mets prospect Jacob deGrom who impressed him the most at Triple-A Las Vegas last season, according to what he told Adam Rubin.

“I saw deGrom. I like him a lot,” HoJo said. “As a matter of fact, at David Wright‘s wedding, I mentioned deGrom to the front office. He pitched one game against us, and he pitched very well. And the things I saw, I liked. He was the guy that I remember, for sure. And we saw them all — Wheeler, Jack Leathersich and some of the other guys.”

DeGrom was added to the 40 Man Roster by the Mets and will be in big league camp vying for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Reese’s Pieces?

Remember Mets second baseman of the future Reese Havens? Well Adam Rubin reports that the former 2008 first-round pick has decided to hang them up after a professional career that was fraught with one injury after another. Havens played six minor league seasons in all, and finishes with a career .252/.355/.423 batting line in 345 games played. What a shame for a kid who was oozing with so much talent and promise, but couldn’t find a way to stay on the field. Fare well, Reese… We hardly knew ye…

Vaughn For The Road…

Our Minor League Analyst Teddy Klein weighs in on Cory Vaughn who he says needs to stay on the field and get hings going.

“Because of his injury, I could see Cory repeating at Double-A, but just for a moment. At 24, Vaughn is on the cusp of losing prospect status, turning 25 in May. He will join his other outfield counterparts such as Darrell Ceciliani and possibly Alonzo Harris in Triple-A this year afterwards, and likely have a shot at making the bench if Chris Young or Cesar Puello falter. Long Shot, I know.”

Three more weeks until pitchers and catchers report…

mmn grain

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Montero and Puello Headline An Exciting Crop Of Prospects Knocking At The Door http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/montero-and-puello-headline-an-exciting-crop-of-prospects-knocking-at-the-door.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/montero-and-puello-headline-an-exciting-crop-of-prospects-knocking-at-the-door.html/#comments Wed, 12 Jun 2013 14:05:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=121660

Here is the rest of my interview with Lynn Worthy, who covers the Binghamton Mets as the regular beat writer for the Press & Sun Bulletin. Lynn provides some great insight on

Which player’s performance has impressed you the most thus far and do you believe it will eventually translate well in the majors?

The most impressive so far would have to be Rafael Montero because of the command he’s displayed. Cesar Puello’s recent play has made it a close call, but Montero has performed so well all season. While his stuff isn’t at the level of Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, he has consistently demonstrated remarkable control beyond what I saw from either Harvey or Wheeler at this level.

It’s a very interesting question to consider how well Montero’s actual stuff translates to a major-league level. I’m not sure. I would tend to think his margin for error will be even smaller against those hitters. There could be a real possibility of him getting hit hard at times. This certainly isn’t an exact comparison, but Collin McHugh had tremendous success and command of multiple pitches in Binghamton and also pitched well at Triple-A. His first start in the big leagues was also stellar, but he has also been hit hard at times.

Montero’s command will be a big plus, and I do think he’s shown a strong ability to work through a lineup a second or third time and keep hitters off-balance. On several occasions he has racked up the majority of his strikeouts after the first time through the lineup. It will be interesting how he gets used if/when he does reach the big league level.

Joe D. – Sandy Alderson spoke very highly of Montero on Monday during his WFAN interview, and we may see him skip a Triple-A assignment and jump straight to the big league team.

“Montero went up and pitched one game at Triple-A, and pitched very well. He’s got 23 or 24 straight scoreless innings at Binghamton. There has been some conversation. Look, he won’t need to go to Triple-A, but very soon we’ll either decide to leave him at Binghamton or promote him to Las Vegas. If we decided to leave him at Binghamton, you could probably infer from that that he could join us directly from Binghamton.”

Is there a player you’re most excited to see promoted to Binghamton from the lower levels?

I’m very interested to see righthander Noah Syndergaard pitch. It looks like, based solely on statistics, that he is another strike-thrower. His strikeout to walk ratio seems impressive. He’s been a highly-touted prospect in both the Mets system and the Blue Jays system prior to the trade.

I’m also curious to see the power Aderlin Rodriguez has in person. I’m not sure how soon he’d be promoted. When it does happen, it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to Eastern League pitching. Specifically, can he make adjustments when pitchers get an idea of what his strengths and weaknesses are. The pitchers certainly make adjustments in the Eastern League.

Joe D. – Syndergaard has been making quite a name for himself since joining the Mets and more than one scout has told me he will ultimately be the prize from the Dickey trade and not Travis d’Arnaud. Syndergaard was the only pitcher from a very talented St. Lucie rotation to be named to the FSL All Star game.

With players like Puello, Leathersich, Montero, and Verrett getting a lot of attention, which B-Mets player is flying under the radar and impressing you with their play?

Darrell Ceciliani has really hit well as of late. He batted just .228 in April, but he was just under .300 in May and is hot lately. He is an exciting player at the plate because he has good speed and can blast balls into the gaps for doubles or triples. He has made some mistakes on the bases (getting picked off), and he does strike out. He is also just an energetic guy who definitely has fun playing the game.

Allan Dykstra has tremendous power as a left-handed hitter. He works counts well and draw a lot of walks. Though he’ll strike out a lot too. If he would go the other way once in a while, I think he’d be a nightmare.

Wilfredo Tovar’s defense has been eye-opening since he got here. His offense shows flashes at times, but those are flashes that come and go.

Satish - Wilfredo Tovar is quite the young player. He is the most talented defensive player in our system but has trouble mustering even below-average offensive skills. If he can find his way with the bat, he would immediately jump into real prospect status in my eyes. Otherwise, I can’t say that I’m that crazy about him right now. I’m also on the fence about Allan Dykstra, but in a bit more of a positive fashion because he has shown consistent flashes of talent. His ’11 season saw him slug 19 home runs and 22 doubles in 475 plate appearances, resulting in a .474 slugging percentage. His numbers this year have improved on that, with eight home runs and 17 doubles already through only 209 plate appearances. Although you usually hope for more power from a first baseman, prospects like Dykstra or Jayce Boyd could turn out to be solid stop-gaps until we get a player of that caliber.

Who was your favorite player that you’ve covered and do you maintain friendships with many of the players that you get to cover?

The players who have been here for multiple years or who have been here for an entire season usually get to be fairly friendly. In some cases, I may drop a line to via social media to the guys who have gone on. I’m not sure if I have a favorite guy, but there are several I’ve enjoyed just talking to about things that weren’t directly related to their own play.

I’d list Rob Carson, Greg Peavey, Erik Turgeon (now retired) and Reese Havens among those. Mark Cohoon is back here this season, and he’s a great guy to cover. McHugh was always good to talk baseball and pitching with. I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

Looks like Travis Taijeron is off to a nice start, but wow… Cesar Puello is on fire. What can you tell us about him?

Cesar Puello has been in one of those stretches where he hasn’t missed his pitch many times, if any. He had a three-game series here against Trenton where he went 7-for-12 with two doubles, four home runs, eight RBI, four runs scored, and only ONE strikeout.

He’s had several reporters like myself ask him about the reports that he could possibly face suspension because of Biogenesis, but he hasn’t let any of it distract him. He regularly talks about being faithful and reading the Bible. I believe one time I saw him carrying a Bible in the clubhouse.

He talked to me a few times about working on getting on top of the ball more instead of upper cutting, and allowing the strength in his legs and lower body to generate power.

He really seems locked in to the point where he is looking for a particular pitch or location, and he’s not giving in and chasing other pitches early in the count as he may have done earlier in the season.

Satish - Puello enjoyed perhaps the best week of his MiLB career last week when he crushed six home runs in just 25 at-bats. He posted a .600 average, going 15-for-25, with three doubles, six home runs, and 15 RBIs. He also stole three bases. Puello’s recent hot hitting has catapulted him to the front of our outfield prospect corps. By the way, Puello is day to day with a bruised finger after being removed from last night’s game in case you were wondering why he was pulled.

* * * * * * * * * *

I want to thank Lynn for taking some time to answer a few questions for us. Follow him on Twitter at @PSBLynn and make sure to read his daily coverage of the B-Mets at the Press & Sun Bulletin or PressConnects.com.

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Collin McHugh Dominates, Josh Satin Homers In Vegas WalkOff Win http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/collin-mchugh-dominates-josh-satin-homers-in-vegas-walk-off-win.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/collin-mchugh-dominates-josh-satin-homers-in-vegas-walk-off-win.html/#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 05:35:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117886 LV-5.7.13

Las Vegas 3, Round Rock 2

Collin McHugh took the mound tonight and pitched a heck of a game. He continued his tremendous start to the season tossing seven scoreless innings. The righty threw 90 pitches (59 strikes), allowed just five hits, struck out five, and left the game with a 1-0 lead. McHugh came into the game leading the 51s with a 3.57 ERA, but after tonight’s masterful performance, he lowered his ERA to 2.98.

McHugh was in line for the win when he left the game heading into the eighth inning, but the combination of Gonzalez Germen and Justin Hampson squandered the lead allowing the tying run to score. Greg Burke took the ball in the top of the ninth up 2-1, but was unable to nail down the save. He allowed a double followed by an RBI single, and saw his ERA balloon to 5.19.

The Vegas offense was held to just three hits on the night, but was highlighted by Josh Satin hitting his fifth home run of the season, and an RBI single by Juan Centeno. Eric Campbell had a very patient night at the plate, accumulating three walks, and scored the go ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Vegas a 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the ninth, Reese Havens singled to lead off the inning, and was moved to second on a ground out by Satin, before being pinch ran for by Brian Bixler. The next batter Zach Lutz struck out swinging, but the ball hit the dirt and had to be blocked by the catcher. Bixler plated the winning run on an errant throw by the catcher attempting to throw out Lutz at first base.

Key Stats

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Vegas Can’t Overcome Five First Inning Runs In 8-2 Loss http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/vegas-cant-overcome-five-first-inning-runs-in-8-2-loss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/vegas-cant-overcome-five-first-inning-runs-in-8-2-loss.html/#comments Sun, 28 Apr 2013 10:00:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=116589 427Vegas

 

Tacoma 8, Las Vegas 2

For Collin McHugh on Saturday night, it was a tale of the first inning…and the rest of the game. McHugh allowed six hits in a row, three of them extra base hits, in the first inning which led to five earned runs. Remember that the ball tends to carry a little more in Las Vegas before you make a judgment on that. I have openly admitted to being on the “Bring McHugh To Flushing” bandwagon with Joe D. and this start does not change that for me. After the rough go in the first inning, he flipped a switch and went the next six innings allowing only a double and a walk over that span.

So after that horrible first inning, Collin McHugh‘s line was 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 4 K. In fact, after allowing the six straight hits to open the game, he retired the next 16 batters straight before walking Mike Zunino – and proceeded to induce a double play. Of course, we couldn’t remove that first frame from the game no matter how hard we wished, so the 51s were fighting an uphill battle from the start.

Greg Peavey ended up on the hook for three runs in the top of the ninth, but only one of them was earned – and Sean Henn had allowed his two inherited runners to score on Peavey’s account.

The Vegas offense consisted of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andrew Brown launching solo home runs. It’s nice to see Kirk settle in already in AAA, while Brown continued to stay hot with a two-hit game. Reese Havens also had a multi-hit game.

Key Stats

Kirk Nieuwenhuis: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB

Andrew Brown: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R

Wilmer Flores: 1-for-4, 1 2B

Reese Havens: 2-for-2, 2 BB

Collin McHugh: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 5 ER, 4 K

Justin Hampson: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 1 BB

Greg Peavey: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 K

Sean Henn: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K (2-2 Inherited runners scored)

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Andrew Brown and Wilmer Flores Lead Offense in 51s 10-6 Victory http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/andrew-brown-and-wilmer-flores-lead-offense-in-51s-10-6-victory.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/andrew-brown-and-wilmer-flores-lead-offense-in-51s-10-6-victory.html/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 05:57:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=115259 LV-4.18.13

Las Vegas 10, Sacramento 6

Wilmer_FloresOn the mound, Darin Gorski got the start and had a decent outing. He fared much better than he had in his previous start, but finished just a third of an inning shy of getting a quality start. The lefty allowed three earned runs and struck out four, en route to his first win of the season. Gorski did not allow a walk in the game, which was a nice improvement after he walked four batters in each of his first two starts of the season.

In the bullpen, the recently demoted Greg Burke pitched a scoreless frame, as did Dylan Owen who closed out the game. Armando Rodriguez and Gonzalez Germen both continued to struggle as they combined to give up three earned runs.

After starting out slow on offense the past few games, the 51s flipped the script and jumped on the River Rats early and often. Andrew Brown replaced Travis d’Arnaud in the cleanup spot, and had three hits, including a triple that drove in Juan Lagares in the first. Brian Bixler scored on a wild pitch in the second, and Eric Campbell and Bixler had RBI singles that plated three more runs the third inning. Wilmer Flores, who has been heating up lately, hit his first home run of the season, drove in three runs, and is now batting .304. Reese Havens doubled in his fifth run of the season, and Juan Lagares was once again a factor at the top of the order scoring two runs and driving in another.

As we reported on Thursday, Juan Centeno has been promoted and will take over the majority of the catching duties while d’Arnaud is out.

Key Stats

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Wheeler Bounces Back, Lagares and Hoffman Homer In Vegas Victory http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/wheeler-bounces-back-lagares-and-hoffman-homer-in-vegas-victory.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/wheeler-bounces-back-lagares-and-hoffman-homer-in-vegas-victory.html/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2013 10:25:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=114645 414vegas

Las Vegas 5, Colorado Springs 4

It took 11 innings, but the Las Vegas 51s were able to escape yesterday’s ballgame with a victory on the strength of a Reese Havens, bases loaded knock to win it in walk-off fashion.

Top-prospect Zack Wheeler took the hill for the 51s and put together one of his more solid efforts in what has been a shaky start to the season. Wheeler went 5 1/3 innings allowing three runs on six hits while walking none and punching out eight, taking a no decision. Wheeler let up a solo shot to Tyler Colvin to draw blood first in this game. Then in the top of the fourth, Corey Dickerson led things off with a triple, immediately followed by an RBI double off the bat of Nolan Arenado to bring Colorado Springs within a run. Wheeler gave up a base hit to Arenado with one out in the sixth before being pulled for Justin Hampson. Arenado would later come around to score on a two-out triple by Ben Paulsen to tie the game at three a piece.

In the bottom of the seventh, Las Vegas regained the lead on a Juan Lagares bomb to left field. That lead would be short lived as Colvin would mash his second homer of the game and send things into extras.

After Armando Rodriguez came on and pitched a scoreless eleventh, the 51s began o rally in the bottom of the frame. Lagares drew a leadoff walk, followed by an intentional pass to Travis d’Arnaud. Wilmer Flores bunted the runners over and Andrew Brown was given the free pass as well to load the bases. Josh Satin went down looking in a seven pitch affair, leaving it all up to Reese Havens. Havens launched one on the second pitch of the at-bat to left enter and score Lagares to hand the 51s a win with some excitement, winning the walk-off 5-4.

Key Stats

Juan Lagares: 2-for-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB

Jamie Hoffmann: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB

Zack Wheeler: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 3 ER, 8 K, ND

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Gorski Gets Rocked, Satin Stays Hot In 11-6 Vegas Loss http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/gorski-gets-rocked-satin-stays-hot-in-11-6-vegas-loss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/gorski-gets-rocked-satin-stays-hot-in-11-6-vegas-loss.html/#comments Sun, 14 Apr 2013 06:17:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=114478 413Vegas

Colorado Springs 11, Las Vegas 6

In a game where the two teams combined for thirty hits, the Las Vegas 51s dropped this one to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 11-6.

It was trouble out of the gate for Vegas in this one, as designated starter Darin Gorski was only able to last two innings in this late-night affair. Gorski struggled from the start, and faced all nine hitters in the Colorado Springs lineup in the first inning, where he allowed three runs. He allowed back-to-back RBI doubles in the second inning, and although he got out of the jam, he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the inning. Gonzalez German was brought on, and he pitched the next three frames while allowing two runs in the top of the fourth.

Robert Carson allowed an inherited runner from Dylan Owen to score in the seventh on a wild pitch, but had an overall line of an inning and two-thirds pitched without allowing a hit and striking out three. Justin Hampson struggled in his inning, allowing five hits and three earned runs in the eighth, but he managed to strike out two batters. Jeurys Familia rounded out the pitching for the 51s, and pitched a hitless ninth while setting two down on strikes.

It looked like this could possibly have been a higher scoring affair, but Las Vegas was only able to score in bunches – three in the third and three in the fifth. After an RBI ground-out by Travis D’Arnaud in the third inning, Andrew Brown drove home Wilmer Flores on an RBI double, and was promptly sent home on a Josh Satin RBI single. Satin was not finished, however, as he drilled his fourth home run of the campaign in the sixth – a two-run shot that scored D’Arnaud, who had reached base after ripping an RBI double.

Vegas had the bases loaded in the seventh inning with none out, but failed to score any runs as Zach Lutz and Jamie Hoffman flew out and Reese Havens followed that with a strikeout.

Key Stats

Wilmer Flores: 2-for-5, 2 2B, 2 R

Travis D’Arnaud: 2-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R

Josh Satin: 2-for-2, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 R

Darin Gorski: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 5 ER, 0 K

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Upper Minors: Torres Ineffective In Vegas 6-1 Loss, Vaughn Explodes In B-Mets 15-7 Win http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/upper-minors-torres-ineffective-in-vegas-6-1-loss-vaughn-explodes-in-b-mets-15-7-win.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/upper-minors-torres-ineffective-in-vegas-6-1-loss-vaughn-explodes-in-b-mets-15-7-win.html/#comments Sat, 13 Apr 2013 13:11:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=114296

Colorado Springs 6, Las Vegas 1

Fans who attended Opening Night at Cashman Field Friday were treated to a dominant performance — just not from the home team.

Behind seven strikeouts and only one earned run from former second-round pick Tyler Chatwood, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox downed the Las Vegas 51s, 6-1, in the team’s home opener.

The 51s’ bats were non-existent for most of the night, including the first four innings. It wasn’t until they had one out left in the fifth inning that the 51s notched an extra-base hit.

Left fielder Jamie Hoffman doubled and pinch hitter Reese Havens drove him in with a line drive to center field. The 51s offense once again fizzled after that.

Las Vegas’ four most ballyhooed hitters — catcher Travis d’Arnaud, first baseman Josh Satin, second baseman Wilmer Flores and third baseman Zach Lutz — went a combined 1-for-15.

The Sky Sox set the tone with three runs in the first-inning. Third baseman Nolan Arenado, the top prospect in the Colorado Rockies organization according to Baseball America, doubled and drove in a run in his first at-bat.

Colorado Springs scored one run in three of the next four innings, including a solo home run from ex-Chicago Cub Tyler Colvin in the fifth.

A crowd of 9,247 fans watched as Las Vegas fell to 5-4 on the year while Colorado Springs improved to 5-3. The 51s host the Sky Sox for the next three days in a row to complete the series.

Key Stats

Omar Quintanilla: 2-for-4

Carlos Torres: 3 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 HR

Greg Peavey: 2 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 R

Binghamton 15, New Hampshire 7

The B-Mets tied a franchise record by scoring 11 times in the fourth inning en route to a 15-7 victory over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Friday night at NYSEG Stadium.

Trailing 5-1 entering the bottom of the fourth, Rhyne Hughes got the inning started by launching his first home run of the season over the left field wall. Hughes was the first of nine consecutive batters to reach base safely to start the inning. They also all eventually came around to score. Binghamton scored eleven times, collected seven hits, and used the help of five walks and two Fisher Cat fielding errors in the decisive inning.

New Hampshire had their way offensively as well. They began the game with three consecutive hits, and scored twice in the first inning. On the night they finished with seven runs on eighteen hits, however they left 16 men on base.

Binghamton’s first run was scored in the bottom of the second inning, as Cory Vaughn doubled home Juan Centeno. Both Centeno and Vaughn finished with three hits and three runs apiece, with Vaughn tallying four RBI as well. As a team Binghamton collected 14 base hits by seven different players, and 14 RBI by eight different players.

Mark Cohoon (2-0) got the win in relief. He pitched two innings after replacing starter Tyler Pill, and gave up one run on four hits.

Key Stats

Alonzo Harris: 2-for-6, 3 RBI, 1 R,

Juan Centeno: 3-for-5, 3 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI

Cory Vaughn: 3-for-4, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB

Tyler Pill: 4 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

(Team Reports)

Site Note: I’m looking for 2-3 writers who are hooked on the Mets Minor Leagues for special features, live game coverage, players interviews. Email me at GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Serious inquiries only.

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Previewing The Las Vegas 51s http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/previewing-the-las-vegas-51s.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/previewing-the-las-vegas-51s.html/#comments Sun, 07 Apr 2013 16:00:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113521

Travis d’Arnaud, along with Zack Wheeler headline the Las Vegas 51s roster.

The Mets changed Triple-A affiliates this offseason, going from Buffalo to Las Vegas and from the International League to the Pacific Coast League. The biggest storyline for this team will be how the move affects development. The Pacific Coast League, especially Las Vegas, is notorious for inflated power numbers. It may be harder to judge how well a player is developing because hitters will have more home runs and pitchers will see their ERA shoot up as well. It will be interesting to see how the prospects react as well, with the top two prospects in the system set to play at least the first month with Las Vegas.

The Big Names

  • Zack Wheeler (RHP)- It’s only a matter of time before the top Mets prospect gets called up to the majors. Wheeler should only be with the 51s for a few months, coming up in July at the latest. 
  • Travis d’Arnaud (C)- d’Arnaud was the centerpiece of the R.A. Dickey trade last December, and for good reason. d’Arnaud looks like the complete package, both at the plate and with the glove. His power has developed over the past two years into one of his best tools. Last year, he hit 16 homers in 67 games in Triple-A before a torn PCL ended his season.
  • Wilmer Flores (INF)- After struggling in the lower minors for a few years (as a result of being rushed), Flores had a resurgent season last year for Advanced-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. The long-awaited power numbers finally came, as Flores slugged .479 with 18 home runs in 130 total minor league games. In his third year in St. Lucie, he hit .289/.336/.463 with ten home runs in 64 games, earning himself an FSL All-Star Game selection. He was then promoted to Binghamton, hwere he hit even better, batting .311/.363/.494 with eight home runs in 66 games. He is still young for the league, currently the seventh-youngest player in Triple-A and the fourth youngest in the Pacific Coast League. If Flores can keep it up, all that’s left is finding a position.
  • Jeurys Familia (RHP) Note: Familia was sent down on Saturday and will be with the 51s for the foreseeable future- Familia had a down season last year with the Buffalo Bisons, struggling as a starting pitcher. He made 28 starts and had a 4.73 ERA, along with a very concerning 4.8 walks per nine rate. His poor performance finally convinced the Mets that he belongs in the bullpen, which is where he will be this season for Las Vegas.
  • Matt den Dekker (CF)- Note: Broken wristThe former fifth-round pick den Dekker tore the cover off the ball in half a season with Binghamton, but struggled to hit .200 in the second half with the Bisons. He batted .340/.397/.563 with eight home runs in 56 Double-A games. After moving to Triple-A, he hit just .220/.256/.373 in 77 games. His stirkeout and walk rates were awful, as he struck out in 28.4% of his Plate appearances, while walking only 4.4%. Those numbers are among the worst in his minor league career. Den Dekker must cut down on the strikeouts if he will ever play regularly in the majors. His incredible defense isn’t going to carry him to success. Den Dekker has shown a trend throughout his short career of needing an adjustment period to each new level, which has some people very hopeful that he will start to hit again once he comes back from a broken wrist later this season.

The Sleepers

  • Juan Lagares (OF)- The speedy and versatile Lagares hit .283/.334/.389 between St. Lucie and Binghamton last season. He can play all three outfield positions, making him a possibility for the Mets bench late this season if things go right.
  • Andrew Brown (OF)- Brown was a longshot to make the team in spring training, and was cut before the season started. However, Brown still has a chance to make some noise with his power. He has put up consistent power numbers throughout his minor league career and could play a role on the Met bench as a power-hitting pinch hitter if someone gets hurt.

Other Names to Watch

  • Reese Havens (2B)- The seemingly always hurt Reese Havens was finally cut from the 40-man roster in the week leading up to Opening Day. Havens, 26, has never played a full season without injury and in his six-year career, has only played in 308 games. If he can stay healthy and the power that scouts have been talking about since he was in college finally shows up, there is still a chance he has a role with the big league club.
  • Collin McHugh (RHP)- McHugh profiles as a long man or back-of-the-rotation type of pitcher. He had a solid season in the minors last year, posting a 2.91 ERA in 25 starts with Binghamton and Buffalo, walking 2.8 batters per nine and striking out 8.2. He struggled in a short stint with the big league club, allowing 21 runs (18 earned) in 21.1 innings over eight appearances.
  • Zach Lutz (3B)- Lutz has put up solid numbers for most of his minor league career, and almost made the team out of spring training. He hit .295/.404/.496 in 78 minor league games last season.

 

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Havens And Gorski Both Clear Waivers, Rice Gets Bullpen Spot http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/havens-and-gorski-both-clear-waivers-rice-gets-bullpen-spot.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/havens-and-gorski-both-clear-waivers-rice-gets-bullpen-spot.html/#comments Fri, 29 Mar 2013 19:54:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=112327 reese havens 2

3:30 PM Update:

Adam Rubin has now reported that Darin Gorski has cleared waivers and will remain under team control. It also has been announced that Scott Rice, and not Robert Carson, will be the second lefty in the bullpen for 2013.

The bullpen now projects as follows:

  1. Bobby Parnell
  2. Brandon Lyon
  3. LaTroy Hawkins
  4. Scott Atchison
  5. Josh Edgin
  6. Greg Burke
  7. Jeurys Familia
  8. Scott Rice

So here’s today’s moves as announced by the Mets:

They have selected the contracts of LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Rice, Marlon Byrd and Scott Atchison, added them to the 40 Man Roster.

Robert Carson, Landon Powell and Omar Quintanilla were all optioned to Las Vegas.

2:00 PM Update:

Adam Rubin has just reported that Reese Havens has cleared waivers. He remains under control of the New York Mets and can be assigned to the minors. There is still no word on Darin Gorski. Update to follow.

Original Post:

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets are expected to waive infielder Reese Havens and left-hander Darin Gorski to make room on their 40-Man roster.

The process would involve exposing them to waivers. If they clear, they can be outrighted to the minors.

I can see either of the two being picked up by other teams, and I’d put it at 50/50, especially for Gorski who could be ready to join an MLB bullpen right now.

Rubin writes about them:

Havens, a first-round pick in 2008, has struggled through back injuries throughout his career. He hit .215 in 325 at-bats last season with Double-A Binghamton.

Gorski, a 25-year-old left-hander, was 9-8 with a 4.00 ERA in 25 appearances (24 starts) with the B-Mets in 2012.

With both being cleared off the 40-man roster, the Mets now have five open spots for adding players on minor league deals.

We all knew there would be some tough decisions to be made, and certainly these are two of them.

Havens has been largely disappointing because of his inability to stay healthy, but oozes with talent, power and potential at a premium position. Gorski may not have been a starter in the majors, but could be an effective lefthander out of the bullpen.

Jeurys Familia

Rubin also confirms that reliever Greg Burke and right-hander Jeurys Familia both have made the Opening Day roster, according to his sources.

The bullpen now projects as follows:

  1. Bobby Parnell
  2. Brandon Lyon
  3. LaTroy Hawkins
  4. Scott Atchison
  5. Josh Edgin
  6. Greg Burke
  7. Jeurys Familia
  8. Robert Carson or Scott Rice

Carson is on the 40-man roster and presumably has the advantage. The Mets will go with eight relievers in the pen until Shaun Marcum is be activated from the DL to make his start against the Marlins to close out the final game of the Mets opening homestand.

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Mets Notes: Wheeler Takes Getting Cut In Stride, Marcum Shows Exceptional Command http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/mets-notes-wheeler-takes-getting-cut-in-stride-marcum-shows-exceptional-command.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/mets-notes-wheeler-takes-getting-cut-in-stride-marcum-shows-exceptional-command.html/#comments Sun, 10 Mar 2013 21:29:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110546 zack wheelerEven without the oblique injury, Zack Wheeler would be opening the season in the minor leagues, which was always the proper decision.

Maybe he wouldn’t have been sent down today with nine others, but as spring training goes on and the need to stretch out the starters increases, Wheeler’s innings would have been reduced, something the Mets did not want to happen.

Since he is better off getting regular innings, today’s demotion was inevitable. With the oblique hampering him, there’s no sense in trying to squeeze him in. He’s better off resuming a normal routine in the minor league camp, where he’ll throw in the bullpen again before getting into a game.There’s always the possibility of Wheeler pitching in a “B” game, but for now he’s in the right place for his development. The Mets have long been accused of rushing pitchers – see Mike Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia – and as they are building again they can’t afford to make a similar mistake with Wheeler, regardless how he feels.

“It’s the big leagues, of course I want to be here,’’ Wheeler said. “I’m not surprised. They told me this could happen.’’

When Johan Santana went down, there was immediate speculation Wheeler might be the one to replace him on the roster, but general manager Sandy Alderson immediately shot that down, saying the plan of patience used for Matt Harvey would be the same for Wheeler.

“I felt bad for him because of the injury,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “I told him he’s sitting in the same seat Matt Harvey was last year. I told him to do well and force us to call him up.’’

The Mets played Harvey perfectly. They resisted the initial temptation, and eventually brought him up in July when the season was already lost. Harvey impressed in ten starts enough to be in the rotation. They project the same for Wheeler.

Wheeler already had a setback when he strained his right oblique muscle 11 days ago and had to be scratched from a start against St. Louis. Wheeler conceded the injury was a setback. Wheeler made one start this spring, throwing two scoreless innings against Washington.

“I only got out there one time,’’ Wheeler said. “ That’s what I’m kind of mad about. I wanted to sort of get out there and prove myself. I hope I’ll be up here soon.’’

Several things have to happen if Wheeler is to see Citi Field soon, including injuries to a pitcher in the major league rotation; Wheeler’s performance at Triple-A Vegas, and, of course, economic considerations.

“I told him to work on his secondary pitches and fastball command on both sides of the plate,’’ pitching coach Dan Warthen said.

Wheeler is aware what needs to improve if he’s to succeed in the major league. He’s aware he can beat hitters with his stuff in the minor leagues, but realizes he needs more finesse and guile in the major leagues.

“I need to keep working on my curveball and getting it over for strikes,’’ Wheeler said. “I want to keep my pitch count down and get deeper into games.’’

Economically, if Wheeler stays in the minors for the first 20 games of the season he can’t be credited with a full year of major league service time, which would delay his free agency season from after 2018 to 2019.

It is anticipated the cutoff date for the extra year of salary arbitration might be June 15, so it is entirely feasible Wheeler will be called up after that date. That’s also the same time we might see catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud.

Unless there’s a dire need, don’t expect to see Wheeler before June 15.

MARCUM PITCHES WELL: Shaun Marcum was exceptional today, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings while giving up one hit and striking out two in the Mets’ 3-0 victory over St. Louis.

“I saw a lot that I liked,’’ Collins said. “He had tremendous command and that’s his trademark. He made pitch after pitch.’’

Marcum, penciled in as the fifth starter, is confident in his progress.

“I feeling like I’m heading in the right direction,’’ Marcum said. “I need to build up my pitch count.’’

Mechanically, Marcum said he doesn’t have command of his change-up and is pushing it rather than throwing it with a natural release.

When his change-up doesn’t have the right movement and goes horizontally rather than dip, it is a sign he is flying open with his shoulder and not staying on top.

METS NOTEBOOK: Jordany Valdespin continues to impress, today driving in a run with a seventh-inning single. … Alderson said it still is too early to make a determination on placing Santana on the disabled list to open the season. … Frank Francisco threw off the mound. The reports were good, but Collins said: “Be careful what you see in March and be careful what you see in September.’’ Translation: He’s opening the season on the DL. … Wheeler highlighted the list of ten cuts, which included: pitchersGonzalez GermenCollin McHughElvin Ramirez and Hansel Robles; left-hander Darin Gorski; infielders Reese Havens and Wilfredo Tovar; outfielders Juan Lagares and Cesar Puello. The Mets are down to 45 players in camp.

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Wilmer Flores Watch: Second Base Analysis http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/wilmer-flores-watch-second-base-analysis.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/wilmer-flores-watch-second-base-analysis.html/#comments Tue, 26 Feb 2013 20:30:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=109209 wilmer flores

Wilmer Flores played second base yesterday in a Spring Training game for the Mets. Flores did not embarrass himself defensively and looked to have an idea offensively. So after roughly six innings it is safe to christen a man with 0 AB above Double-A with the starting second base job?

No. Nope. Nah. Negative. Not Yet.

Flores has even less MiLB experience at 2B than Daniel Murphy did when he tried a similar transition, and even at that point Murphy had significant innings at first base (same side of the infield, similar reactions). Wilmer Flores saw his first minor league action at new positions this year with seven games at first base, 27 games at second base and 87 games at third base. For a man who played 300+ career MiLB games at shortstop to not even take one inning at the position shows where Flores will wind up in the grand scheme of things.

The biggest knock has been movement in general, but specifically lateral movement and Flores ability to compensate for lack of speed with efficient footwork. In yesterday’s game, Flores made a few solid plays and no miscues in his four chances to handle the position. Just for an analysis, we will look into each chance.

1. Man on first, groundball hit directly at Flores, runs in front of the runner and shovel-passes the ball to Brandon Hicks (SS) covering second, turning the double play.

Thoughts: Flores got to the ball which wasn’t hit very sharply, got rid of the ball smoothly and did it in one fluent motion. This play shows more awareness and body control but did show Flores’ soft hands.

2. Man on first, groundball hit directly at David Wright (3B), throws to Flores covering 2B, throws to Ike Davis to complete double play

Thoughts: This was the most challenging play Flores would have all day and shows why he may still need some more reps to get smoother. Wright gives Flores an average to solid feed, although it was thrown directly into Flores numbers and not off to a side where Flores could easily avoid a baserunner. Flores had to stand tall, and due to the throw handcuffing was forced to throw flat-footed to Ike Davis and still got the runner by half a stride. Flores exhibited a strong arm and turned that play. The footwork around the bag was a bit rough as he could have taken the slide-step to the outfield-side of the bag to avoid contact but instead did an odd shuffle and stayed on the base

3. Ball hit to Flores left (glove side) hard, Flores goes down, gets the ball, spins and throws to Ike Davis for the out.

Thoughts: The reaction play will always be a great way to test a second baseman and this shot was a decent test. Though hit within Flores vicinity, the reaction to drop and get it with a slide and spin was a good move. If Flores goes for an outright dive, he runs a higher risk of booting the ball. By spinning as he catches it, he puts himself in the best position to throw and uses more of his body to block the ball in the event it doesn’t wind up in his glove.

4. Ball hit directly at Flores, gathers and throws to Ike Davis

Thoughts: This is a standard play regardless of which base a player would be covering. Scoop, regroup, throw. Flores didn’t look hesitant or worried and knew he had time to throw out the runner.

5. Ball hit on a big bounce near the plate, Flores rushes in but has almost no chance to throw out baserunner

Thoughts: This was the toughest play but not the most challenging for one reason. The player running on the play notched three infield hits, and not one was a bunt. Flores was forced to charge and throw from where he reached the ball which was above his head. For what it’s worth, Flores missed getting the runner by about a full stride, but on first watch it appeared to be a bang-bang play.

Conclusion: For his first six innings in a spring training game, Flores didn’t look bad with the glove. He made the routine plays, made a few difficult ones and was both the feeder and the pivot man for a double play. Wilmer looked confident and not like he was afraid to make mistakes. Just for reference, Reese Havens has been playing second base for nearly his entire MiLB career. He made two miscues yesterday in half the innings. Is Flores the savior? No. Can he be a useful MLB player with the glove? Useful in terms of adequate…sure lets go with that. Flores will probably see a fair-share of reps at both second and third base now that David Wright will be leaving for the WBC.

*side note – Flores went 0-2 at the plate, both fly-outs to the right fielder. Flores hit them both the opposite way and I do not know if that was a product of hitting the ball where it is pitched, or a specific game plan to go opposite way.

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Multiple Mets Playing For A Chance To Be Part Of The Future http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/multiple-mets-playing-for-a-chance-to-be-part-of-the-future.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/multiple-mets-playing-for-a-chance-to-be-part-of-the-future.html/#comments Tue, 12 Feb 2013 15:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=107775 ike-davisUnlike many teams throughout Major League Baseball which are preparing to open spring training this week, the Mets don’t have many unanswered questions to be worked out in the next six weeks.

The Mets, a team in transition, are just about set from top to bottom, short of a spot on the bench and maybe another spot in the bullpen.  Being set for this season doesn’t necessarily mean set for the future, though. In fact, although this spring won’t, the upcoming season will answer a variety of questions about the path the organization will take next season and beyond.

Will the Mets need to acquire two outfielders or three?  Is the right side of the infield set for years to come?  How about the back end of the rotation?  These are all questions that need to be answered.  As a result, each of these players finds himself on the block this year…

Lucas Duda

A natural first baseman who is blocked at the position by Ike Davis, the Mets still hope to find a position Duda can play efficiently enough to justify keeping his bat in the lineup.  That bat however, also needs to improve this upcoming season if Lucas intends to keep himself in the fold beyond the 2013 season.  2012 saw his power numbers increase, but at the expense of his strikeout count, which averaged one per game.  The hope is that Duda can hit .260+ while realizing his 25-30 home run potential, but if he can’t find that happy medium, his struggles in the outfield will ultimately usher him out of the Mets’ plans.

Daniel Murphy

The twenty-seven year old Murphy has absolutely clawed his way to a starting spot in Queens.  His reward comes in the form of a significant raise he received just two weeks ago and the knowledge he’ll have to continue to claw if he hopes to maintain his spot.  In 2013, the Mets will not only ask Murphy to continue his progression at second base, they’ll ask him to better his power numbers that have only featured six home runs each of the past two years.  A fair request for a career contact hitter with gap power?  Probably not…but to date nothing has come easy for Murphy, so why should things start now?

Ike Davis

I know what your thinking…There is no way the Mets could possibly jettison their twenty-five year old power-hitting first baseman who remains under team control through the 2016 season.  However, allow me to remind you that the only thing that salvaged Davis’ 2012 campaign was his 32  home runs, which partially overshadowed his embarrassing first half which ultimately resulted to only a .227 batting average.  If nothing else, Davis represents a ton of potential.  That’s a commodity which may be valuable to a slue of other teams, should the Mets’ front office decide a trade is in order.  With Lucas Duda and possibly even Reese Havens as other long term options at first, Davis will still need to prove his value moving forward.  While the much more likely scenario sees Davis signed to a long term, team friendly, contract at some point this season, Ike’s future remains far from certain.

Dillon Gee

The 2013 season will bring with it the eventual arrival of Zack Wheeler, who will join the previously established Matt Harvey as the pitching saviors who the Mets’ front office hope can secure the rotation for many years to come.  While they may secure the front end of the rotation, the back end remains left to Dillon Gee, who seeks to return from season ending surgery as the result of a vascular ailment late last year.  Prior to falling victim to a blood clot, Gee’s 6-7 record was a poor representation of his performance which included 8.0 K/9IP and the lowest ERA of his short career.  With a plethora of young pitchers many have described as virtual clones of Dillon at the Triple-A level, Gee will have to stay on his game should he want to maintain his spot on what may be one of the strongest young rotations in baseball in short order.

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Every season has the potential to shed light on the future.  The 2013 season will be no different for the New York Mets.  In a perfect world, each of these guys earn their way onto the 2014 roster, thus allowing Sandy Alderson and the rest of the Mets’ front office to apply their considerable assets elsewhere.  However if they can’t, the Mets may find themselves with more holes than they can possible fill next winter, resulting in an even longer delay in the organization’s revitalization.

Follow me on twitter at @RobPatterson83

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Prospect Pulse: Analyzing Second Base Prospect Reese Havens http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/prospect-pulse-analyzing-second-base-prospect-reese-havens.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/prospect-pulse-analyzing-second-base-prospect-reese-havens.html/#comments Thu, 07 Feb 2013 12:27:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=107283 Reese Havens 3

Player Name: Reese Havens 

Bats: L  Throws: R

Height: 6’1″  Weight: 195 lb.

Position: Second Base 

Age: 26 

MMO Top Prospect Ranking: NR

ETA: 2013

Background:

There’s not much that I can tell you about Reese Havens that you probably don’t already know. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of the University of South Carolina. Many experts thought he would go on to have the best career of any Mets player drafted in 2008. We are still waiting for him to live up to those expectations.

Everyone knows Havens’ story: tons of talent, can’t stay healthy. Even in a NY Times interview last March, Havens’ father was shocked that the injury bug has bitten Reese during his professional career, because he had never been affected by injuries in the previous years. Brent Havens, Reese’s father, said this about his son’s injuries:

It has been extremely uncanny, the injuries he’s had, because he was never hurt as a youngster. His high school and college careers were basically injury-free. And if he did have an injury, he always healed quickly.

Even Havens’ father can’t seem to figure out what is going on with the string of injuries Havens has suffered the past few years. Hopefully that is all put behind him now, and he can get his career back on track.

Analysis:

There are some Mets fans out there that seem about ready to give up on Reese Havens. I’ve seen some people go as far as saying that he isn’t a prospect anymore. My response is: thank goodness these people don’t work in the Mets organization. I would really hate to see the Mets give up on this kid and then have him turn out to be a superstar with some other team. When the Mets added him to the 40-man roster this winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, it showed the baseball world that the Mets still believed in his talent.

And what’s not to believe in? So what the guy had a couple of nagging injuries. That doesn’t mean he can’t play. Look at this quote from Terry Collins, regarding Havens, from that same NY Times article noted earlier:

“He’s one of those guys where you just know the ceiling. If we can get him in the lineup, he’s going to play in the big leagues.”

Terry Collins doesn’t seem worried that Havens won’t be a big leaguer, so why should the fan base?

Havens is a gamer. He oozes baseball talent. He has a solid glove, hits for average and has a ton of power for a second baseman. He also gets on base, and has great patience. He has all the attributes you want in a player. In 2012, Reese may have still been recovering from a back ailment. He may have only hit .215 last season, but his OBP was .340 because he had 58 walks. That’s promising.

What is also promising is his 2011 season where he displayed mastery at the Double-A level hitting for a .289 average, and a .372 OBP across 58 games. Don’t look into 2012 too much, because when it comes to back injuries, it tends to take a season to really feel comfortable again swinging the bat.

This is where I’m going to start making bold statements. But don’t worry, I stand by all of them and believe them to be true. If Terry Collins announced tomorrow that there would be an open competition for the Mets starting second base job this spring, there is no doubt in my mind that Havens would beat out Daniel Murphy on his sheer talent alone. The Mets are dying to get an excuse to get this guy to the big leagues. There’s been a lot of talk of Wilmer Flores converting to second base of late, but it’s surely a backup plan for if Havens never nips this injury bug. Havens is the real deal. He just has to get on the field and prove it.

Age is just a number. Don’t look at his age as being a negative. The guy can play ball, and it shouldn’t matter how old he is if he can help the Mets win. Havens is the future second baseman of the Mets. Murphy is just a stop-gap, and the minute Havens is ready (which won’t be long), he will be showing everyone why he was a first-round selection in 2008. You might want to pre-order to Reese Havens jerseys now, because it’s going to be a hot seller in the very near future.

Havens will get his career back on track in 2013, because guys with his kind of baseball ability just don’t go away. He is my sleeper prospect for 2013. He has top ten prospect ability, and will start the season with Triple-A, but don’t be surprised if he gets called up as early as May (if he performs up to his potential in spring training). He may not have many minor league at-bats under his belt, but mark my words, he’s ready…if he can stay on the field.

For more Mets minor league and prospect coverage, you can follow me on Twitter @FirstPitchMitch.

PROSPECT PULSE

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Who’s Hot, Who’s Not – Upper Minors http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/08/whos-hot-whos-not-upper-minors.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/08/whos-hot-whos-not-upper-minors.html/#comments Wed, 08 Aug 2012 13:00:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=91770

Zach Lutz is one of the Mets farmhands heating up.

Welcome to the first edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not – Upper Minors! Today, we will look at the hottest (and coldest) players from St. Lucie, Binghamton, and Buffalo.

WHO’S HOT:

  •  Dustin Martin- Martin has been one of the best, if not the best, hitters in the Mets organization over the past few weeks. Martin is hitting an astounding .452 over his last ten games, and also has two homers and ten RBI.
  • T.J. Rivera- Rivera had a fantastic first half in Savannah, earning him a mid-season promotion to St. Lucie. After a brief adjustment period, Rivera has caught fire. Over his last ten games, Rivera is hitting .386 with nine RBI and three stolen bases.
  • Zach Lutz- Zach Lutz has also been hitting very well lately. Lutz is batting .406 over his last ten games. He has also hit three home runs and driven in nine. On top of that, Lutz has been drawing quite a few walks. His on-base percentage over his last ten games is .500, bringing his overall mark on the season to an impressive .416.
  • Honorable Mention: Collin McHugh- After an adjustment period going from Binghamton to Buffalo, McHugh ahs turned it around in a big way in Triple-A. His last three starts have been terrific. He has pitched a total  of 18.2 innings, and allowed only five runs on 12 hits over that span.

WHO’S NOT:

  • Matt den Dekker- After having a fantastic first half with the B-Mets, Matt den Dekker has struggled in his stint with the Bisons. Over his first 50 games, he is hitting just under .200 and over this past week, things got worse for him. Den Dekker is batting just .136 over his last ten games, and has struck out seven times in 29 at-bats. The strikeouts are a big concern. Den Dekker’s strikeout percentage has been steadily climbed as he moves up through the minor league system.
  • Jeurys Familia- A few weeks back, Familia had a stellar stretch of games and looked like he was finally getting over his early-season struggles on the mound. Over his last three starts, however, Familia has not been great. Over that span, he has allowed 15 earned runs in only 10.1 innings pitched. He has also walked eight batters over that span and only struck out six.
  • Reese Havens- Havens struggled the first half of the season, but had a big breakout stretch in which he seemed to get his rhythm back. However, he is slumping once again with Binghamton. He is batting just .162 over his last ten games and has struck out 12 times in 37 at-bats.
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The Binghamton Buzz: Stumbling Into The Second Half http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/the-binghamton-buzz-stumbling-into-the-second-half.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/the-binghamton-buzz-stumbling-into-the-second-half.html/#comments Tue, 24 Jul 2012 12:00:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=89732 Ramblings From Henry and Fayette Streets

The Week That Was: July 16th – July 22nd

The Binghamton Mets first full week back after the All-Star break was not kind to them as the team was able to only scratch out one win in seven games.  To begin the week, the Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees – the Trenton Thunder – visited NYSEG Stadium for a three game series.  Binghamton lost all three games, the first two by a one run margin, the rubber match by six runs.  The bright spot in the series against the Thunder came at the gate, not on the field, as the B-Mets drew over 5,000 fans two out of the three games, and eclipsed 4,000 for the middle game of the series.  From there, it was off to Bowie, Maryland where the B-Mets would earn their only win of the week, a win that took an inning of free baseball to get.  The B-Mets scored the go ahead run in the top of the tenth, and Robert Carson came into the game in the bottom of the frame, closing out the BaySox and earning his first win of the season.  For the remainder of the Bowie series, the starting pitching for the B-Mets was shaky as Zack Wheeler allowed eight earned runs, a career high, in three and two thirds on Friday night; Gonzalez Germen only pitched one inning on Saturday night, the shortest start of his career, and allowed four earned runs; and Darin Gorski gave up four earned runs over four innings while issuing a career high six walks on Sunday.  At the plate, Eric Campbell hit safely in all but one game during the week.  Reese Havens also collected at least one hit in all but one game last week; his hits included two doubles and a home run.  Mike Baxter appeared in three games for the Binghamton Mets on a rehab assignment from the big club.  In two of the three games was the designated hitter, and in the third game he played the outfield.  Baxter was 3-for-10 at the plate, with a run scored, one RBI, one walk and two strikeouts.  Looking at the team stats, Eric Campbell still holds the top spot in average (.316), OBP (.417), and slugging (.465).  Reese Havens and Jefry Marte are tied for the team lead in home runs with eight, and Marte leads the team in RBI’s as well with 45.  On the mound, Zack Wheeler’s name still sits in the top spot for most pitching catagories, with the number one ranking on the B-Mets in ERA (2.99), WHIP (1.11), wins (9), and strikeouts (101).  Robert Carson still leads all relievers in the saves catagory with eight.  

Carson remains the team leader in saves

Standings

Weekly Stat Snapshot

Here’s where the current Binghamton Mets stack up against the rest of the Eastern League

Batters

Eric Campbell – 3rd in BA (.316) and OPS (.883), 2nd in OBP (.417)

Juan Lagares – T-7th in runs (54) and doubles (22), T-5th in hits (107)

Pitchers

Zack Wheeler -1st in WHIP (1.11),T-2nd in wins (9) and strikeouts (101), 6th in ERA (2.99)

Mark Cohoon -T-5th in WHIP (1.19)

Not So Fast…

With all of the negative press during the off season about the fate of the Binghamton Mets, one supposition that many of the Monday Morning Quarterbacks liked to discuss was ‘where’ the Mets would place their Double A affilate ‘when’ the franchise was sold and moved to Ottawa.  The Ottawa rumor is all but dead for the time being, and now the rumor of the Mets potentially going to New Britain, Connecticut with their Eastern League affiliate is too with the following press release from the Rock Cats last week.

New Britain, CT- The Double-A New Britain Rock Cats Baseball Club (Eastern League) and the  Minnesota Twins have extended their Player Development Contract (PDC) for another two years. This long lasting relationship will keep the Rock Cats and Twins together through 2014, their 20th season.  The Rock Cats have been developing players for the Minnesota Twins since 1995, the fifth longest continuous working relationship with a major league affiliate in the Eastern League.

Did You Know?

In the current Eastern League, only the Reading Phillies (with the Philadelphia Phillies since 1967), Harrisburg Senators (with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals since 1991), and Canton/Akron Indians/Akron Aeroes (with the Cleveland Indians since 1989) have been affiliated with their parent club longer than the Binghamton Mets.  This season marks the 21st season that the B-Mets have served as the New York Mets Double A affiliate.

The 1992 Binghamton Mets brought an Eastern League title to the city in their first year back after a 24 year absence

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The Binghamton Buzz: Season Long Losing Streak Continues http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/the-binghamton-buzz-season-long-losing-streak-continues.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/07/the-binghamton-buzz-season-long-losing-streak-continues.html/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 17:35:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=87247 Ramblings from Henry and Fayette Streets

The Week That Was June 25th - July 1st

If not for a win in Erie on Monday, the Binghamton Mets would have gone 0-for-the week.  After their 11-5 victory at Jerry Uht Park against the SeaWolves, the B-Mets were swept at home in a four game series against the Bowie BaySox, and started off their four game set against the Altoona Curve with two more losses over the weekend.  At week’s end, they had their longest losing streak of the season at six games and counting.  In the series against the BaySox, the B-Mets were outscored by their opponent from Maryland by a 33-15 margin.  Top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler pitched twice in the past week, compiling a 1-1 record, allowing seventeen hits and eleven earned runs over those two games, while striking out nine.  Wilmer Flores hit his first homerun as a B-Met on Wednesday night against Bowie, the start of a three game span against the BaySox in which he went 6-for-10 with three RBI’s and three runs scored.  Statistical team leaders for the B-Mets show Eric Campbell at the top in AVG/OBP/SLG at .327/.438/.493.  Jefry Marte leads the team in RBI’s with 38, and is tied with Reese Havens for the team lead in homeruns with six.  On the pitching side, it’s a clean sweep by Zack Wheeler in every catagory save one, and that would be saves.  Wheeler is tops in ERA (2.74), WHIP (1.11), wins (7), and strikeouts (82).  Robert Carson still leads all relievers with six saves on the season.

Flores hit his first homerun in a B-Mets uniform this past week

Standings

Weekly Stats Snapshot

Where do the Binghamton Mets stack up against the rest of the Eastern League?  Have a look.

Batters

Eric Campbell - 1st in OBP (.438), 3rd in batting average (.327), 5th in OPS (.930)

Pedro Zapata – 3rd in triples (5)

Pitchers

Zack Wheeler – 4th in ERA (2.74), 4th in WHIP (1.11), 3rd in strikeouts (82)

Robert Carson – 5th in saves (5)

Did You Know?

In 2012, the Binghamton Mets will be sending two players to the All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City as part of the Major League Baseball All-Star Festivities.  Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores are the latest players to represent the Mets organization at this annual game which began in 1999.  Over the years, there have been some memorable, and not so memorable, players selected to play in the game from the Binghamton Mets.  The list includes: Jorge Toca (1999), Alex Escobar (2000), Jae Seo (2001), Royce Ring and Justin Huber (2003), Ken Oberkfell (as part of the coaching staff)(2004), Yusmeiro Petit (2005), Matt Lindstrom (2006), Mako Oliveras (as part of the coaching staff), Kevin Mulvey, and Fernando Martinez (2007), Fernando Martinez again (2008), Mako Oliveras (again as part of the coaching staff) and Jenrry Mejia (2009), and Matt Harvey (2011).

Matt Lindstrom appeared in the 2006 Futures Game while playing for the B-Mets

Attendance Report

When last reported on, the attendance numbers for Binghamton were down 13% this season compared to the 2011 campaign.  At the somewhat midpoint in the season, we see that difference narrowing just a bit with an 11% drop at the gate between 2011 and 2012.  Through 38 games in 2012, the B-Mets are averaging 2,615 fans a game, whereas after the same numbers of openings in 2011 they were averaging 2,951.  

The B-Mets are ahead of the Erie Seawolves in average attendance in the Eastern League, and rank above not only Erie (DET), but Jackson (SEA), Mobile (ARI), and Huntsville (MIL) as well across all of Double A baseball. 

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Prospect Notebook: The Final Week http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/prospect-notebook-the-final-week.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/prospect-notebook-the-final-week.html/#comments Fri, 30 Mar 2012 12:00:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=75604

The Binghamton Mets (AA) broke a three game losing streak on Thursday with a 10-6 win over the Jacksonville Suns (Marlins). The B-Mets put together a 12-hit attack, led by outfielder Cesar Puello who had a single, a double, a HR, and two SB’s. The righty-hitting Puello will turn 21 in two days. CF Darrell Ceciliani had two doubles in the game, and 1B Travis Ozga slugged a two-run homer.

LHP Darin Gorski went five innings for Bingo, giving up two runs on five hits, and striking out five. RHP Brad Holt hurled an inning and struck out the side. The B-Mets are 3-5 this spring with two games to go. They open their regular season at home, on Thursday against Akron.

With just a week to go in Spring training, the Mets have cut three more players from their minor league system. OF Javier Rodriguez who the Mets reached for in the 2nd round of the 2008 MLB player draft, was unceremoniously dumped due to lack of production. When taken in the draft out of high school in Puerto Rico, the question at the time was: “Who is this guy?” Raw and toolsy came the response. Well he may have been raw but he’s not very toolsy.

In 769 minor league AB’s over the last 4 years, J-Rod hit .248, with 15 HR’s, 110 RBI’s and 8 SB’s. About to turn 22, and heading into his fifth season in the organization, it was a make-or-break year for him and when it appeared he was not going to make a long-season club, he was released.

Also released was RHP Michael Hebert, who was trying to work his way back from injury. Hebert was the 7th round pick from the 2008 draft, and was one of the dozen or so starting pitchers battling for a long-season rotation spot. Unfortunately Hebert was another victim of the numbers game and was squeezed out.

The third player released was RHP Michael Powers, another 2008 draftee, who was taken in the 31st round that year. Now nearly 26 years old, it seems Powers topped out at AA, and with his fringy stuff the writing was on the wall. Time had run out for the scrappy reliever.

In other organizational notes: Michael Fulmer tweeted the other day that he was scheduled to pitch 4 innings in an intra-squad game on Wednesday. If the Mets were planning on leaving the 1st-round sandwich pick in last years draft in extended spring training, they would probably be limiting him to two innings at this point. The fact that he is being “stretched out” could indicate the team is thinking about starting him in a long-season league, like with Savannah in the SAL. That would be a very aggressive move for the Mets.  But since Fulmer is an 18-year-old power pitcher, with two advanced pitches, it could speed up the developmental timeline for him quite a bit.

The Mets announced the signing of 27-year-old middle infielder Josh Rodriguez yesterday. So on the same day they cut Javier Rodriguez, they signed Josh Rodriguez, restoring the organization’s equilibrium as far as J-Rods go. The newly acquired J-Rod made his big league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season striking out 8 times in 12 AB’s, with one hit.

Since the Bisons are set at shortstop with Omar Quintanilla, this move can only mean three things: 1) even though Reese Havens was supposed to start taking ground balls last week, he is obviously nowhere near ready to play. 2) Jordanny Valdespin will be spending significant time in CF, and probably some at shortstop, as well as playing 2B. And 3) Josh Satin is no longer considered a viable defensive option at second-base. He is now limited to a corner infield spot at this point.

For those of you keeping score at home, there has been a Jefry Marte sighting. Now fully recovered from a broken wrist he sustained in the Arizona Fall League last year, the third-baseman was seen taking it out on defenseless baseballs in batting practice the other day. From the video you can see how much he has filled out over the winter. Coming off a career year offensively, perhaps this is the year he turns potential into power.

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The All-Injured Mets Prospect Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/the-all-injured-mets-prospect-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/the-all-injured-mets-prospect-team.html/#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2012 15:15:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=74586

With all the injuries in big league camp this spring, it would have been really nice if some of the young kids could have stepped in and helped out. It would have been a help to the big league team, a valuable experience for the kids, a learning experience, and who knows? One of them might have won a big league job. Injuries to Captain Kirk have robbed him of any chance this year, to do anything more than start the season in Buffalo. Injuries to Reese Havens have prevented him from competing for the Mets second-base job for the last two years. An injury to Zach Lutz kept him from making his major league debut last year when DWright went on the disabled list. And if Jerry “The Stooge” Manuel hadn’t destroyed Jenrry Mejia’s arm two years ago, he might be competing for the fifth rotation spot on the Mets right now.

I started thinking about some of the oft injured minor league prospects in the Mets system, some of them very high draft picks, who have wallowed in the perpetual mire of minor league disabled lists. Of course there are always going to be injuries in baseball, sports for that matter. And everyone gets their fair share. But I couldn’t help but wonder what Mets camp would look like this year if these players hadn’t been hurt so often, or at the worst possible time. Each player on this list would either be on the verge of making it in the bigs right now, or would already be on the Mets, if not for untimely injuries wiping out huge swaths of their playing time over the last several years.

So what I did was to create a sort of all-star team. A team made up of the very best of the constantly injured players that so far, are just a bunch of unfulfilled promises. The Oft-Injured All-Stars consists of one player at each position, plus a starter, and a reliever. Of those ten players on the “team,” all but three could be on the Mets right now, fighting for jobs on the big league squad. Of the three not quite ready yet, two should be at AAA this year, and one should be at AA. Of the ten players all but one, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, face major obstacles to overcome their injuries, battle back, and go on to stay healthy and have big league careers. Let’s take a look at the 2012 New York Mets Minor League Oft-Injured All-Stars:

Catcher:  Kai Gronauer – This defensively astute catcher from Germany had a breakout year with the bat in 2010, and was supposed to assume the role of starting catcher at AA Binghamton last season. That job would have afforded him a chance to command the pitching staff for an entire year, and to take on the challenge of continuing to hit well at a higher level. But it was not to be. A serious hamstring injury suffered in May, wiped out a huge part of Kai’s season, and when he returned, he was just not right. He tried to tough his way through it but if you’ve ever torn your hamstring, you know how devastating it can be and how long it takes to fully heal. Now try and imagine being a catcher, and having to squat like that with a tight hammy. I think I might have had trouble with my timing hitting a fastball too, if I were him. If Kai had not been hurt all of last year, he would be the starting catcher at AAA this spring, and could easily have contributed to the Mets at some point in 2012. But with the organization bringing in Rob Johnson and Lucas May, that road to Citi just got much more bumpy. At 25-years-old, that lost year in 2011 came at the worst time for Gronauer, who is starting to run out of time.

1B: Zach Lutz – This talented hitter has had a career riddled with injuries so far from the first moment he appeared as a Met minor leaguer. A 5th-round draft choice in the 2007 draft, he signed and started his pro career in Brooklyn. With just two AB’s in his first game for the Cyclones, he injured his ankle fielding a ball at third, and fractured bones on the top of his foot which required surgery. That started several years of foot and ankle problems. Lutz has battled significant injuries every season in the minors so far, that has robbed him of tons of playing time, but when he is on the field he is a fearsome right-handed slugger. Zach turns 26 in June and is entering his sixth season in the minor leagues. If not for a beaning last year while at Buffalo, he would have been brought up to Citi to play some 3B when Wright was out. This year is very important for Lutz to stay healthy and productive, if he wants to get to the bigs in 2012.

2B: Reese Havens – What can a Mets fan say about Reese Havens, the 1st-round pick from 2008? How about, “Where the heck is the guy!?” He hurts his oblique, he hurts his back, they fix his rib, he hurts his back. What is he on the Zach Lutz workout regimen? Did he learn everything he knows about staying healthy from Fernando Martinez? With the gaping hole at second-base for the Mets for two years running now, I’m sure Mets fans are just dying for this guy to finally be healthy and contribute something. Don’t hold your breath. And we’re not the only ones hoping. The way GM Sandy Alderson sat on his hands all winter and worked on his tan, I think he is expecting Havens to ride in on his white horse and win the job any day now. Keep waiting Sandy.

SS: Robbie Shields – The 3rd-round draft pick from 2009 has been a huge disappointment. Back problems and other assorted injuries have caused Shields to average only around 200 AB’s per season in pro ball so far. In a perfect world, a world without back problems, he would be the starting shortstop at Buffalo this year. But the lost time has really kept him “down” on the farm. Since he is already 24-years-old, and has never played any higher than A ball, the pressure will really be on him to stay on the field this season, and perform.

3B: Jefry Marte – Some players get tough breaks, but this one was to Marte’s wrist, and at the worst possible time for the young man. It came last October in the Arizona Fall League, as he was coming off his best offensive and defensive regular season thus far. The Mets were hoping a solid showing in the AFL would help Marte make the jump to AA this season. Instead Marte is still rehabbing and has not made an appearance in big league camp. Several questions cloud Marte’s future with the organization right now. When will he return? Will he be at full strength? How will he adapt to AA? Stay tuned.

LF: Fernando Martinez – I know your first reaction is, “but he’s not with the Mets anymore!” That’s okay, no problem, it’s only natural, I’d have said the same thing. But remember what this cockamamie article is about! We have to suspend belief, and imagine what life would be like if these players had not succumbed to crippling injuries.  So imagine an FMart with healthy knees. An FMart who never injures an ankle, or an oblique, or a hammy, or a hip.  An FMart that stayed on the field for the Mets and went through the minor leagues putting up the kind of numbers we all had hoped for. That guy would be our fourth outfielder right now, and back-up center fielder.

CF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis – This is the one guy on the list that doesn’t have a real big question mark hanging over him. Just a few small ones. He seems to be recovered from labrum surgery on his shoulder. Of course now he’s dealing with an oblique, but hopefully it won’t be anything major or long-term. Once he finally does return, it’s back to business as usual for the 3rd-round pick from the 2008 draft, which for him is cutting way down on his strikeouts. When he is healthy, and gets some AAA experience to clear up those little question marks, he should be ready to contribute to the big club.

RF: Sean Ratliff – This is a man very close to my heart. I met and interviewed Sean this winter, and he is a terrific guy and an inspiring story. The 2008 4th-round draft pick for the Mets, he appears on this silly All-Star team at no fault of his own. He was totally holding up his end of the bargain coming off a career year with the bat in 2010. He was due to start 2011 at AA Binghamton as their regular right-fielder to continue where he left off the year before. But just weeks before last season was about to begin, Ratliff was struck in the eye with a foul ball while standing in the on-deck circle. He is attempting to come back this spring after being fitted with a custom contact lens. Had Ratliff not been injured he was certainly in position to have a very big year, and would most likely be playing beside Captain Kirk and Juan Lagares in the AAA Buffalo outfield this season. Instead he will start over at AA again, and try and pick up where he left off. We continue to wish Sean the best.

SP: Jenrry Mejia – I’ll never forget the utter disbelief I experienced when I found out that Jerry Manuel’s whining had finally gotten Omar Minaya to cave in and bring Mejia to the big leagues a year-and-a-half prematurely. Not only did it stunt Mejia’s development, but they damaged his elbow having him throw so often in the bullpen. Now nearly a year after surgery, we can only hope that they don’t make the same mistakes with him again. If he had been sent to the minors instead of the majors he may have gotten hurt anyway, maybe not, we’ll never know for sure. But if they had been cautious and protected his arm, chances are he’d be competing head-to-head with Dillon Gee right now for the fifth rotation spot.

RP: Brant Rustich – The Mets 2nd-round draft pick from 2007, Brant is a terrific guy with tremendous talent who has had a very tough road to travel so far. I interviewed him this winter and he described the ordeal he underwent to find out the cause of his chronic arm problems. It turned out to be TOS, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and requires surgery to repair which he had done over a year ago. According to Brant, he’s feeling better than he has in years, and we’re still waiting for reports on how he’s throwing in camp this spring. When healthy the big right-hander has a very advanced repertoire and he throws very hard. If he is able to perform this season he could move quickly through the system, and even contribute out of the pen at Citi.

Your Oft-Injured batting order:

1. Nieuwenhuis  CF

2. Shields  SS

3. Havens  2B

4. Lutz  1B

5. FMart  LF

6. Ratliff  RF

7. Marte  3B

8. Gronauer  C

9. Mejia  P

If they are all healthy, that’s not a bad line-up……

And now an Honorable Mention Who’s Who? of near total career derailment: Steve Matz LHP, Zach Dotson LHP, Matt Bouchard 2B, Manny Alvarez RHP, Nick Carr RHP, Brandon Moore RHP, Scott Moviel RHP, Eric Beaulac RHP

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.

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