Mets Merized Online » Steven Matz Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:35:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why Have The Mets Struggled So Mightily To Address Shortstop? Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:35:31 +0000  reyes

The Mets’ need for a shortstop, alleged search for a shortstop, inability to actually acquire a shortstop, and (naturally) continued lack of production from the shortstop position has been a most frustrating combination for Mets fans ever since Jose Reyes was allowed to walk away in free agency (excluding a couple decent stretches from Ruben Tejada, who has otherwise regressed since he was given a starting job).

Each of the last few seasons has been portrayed by the team as “The Year” —  ”Matt Harvey is ready! No, wait, Zack Wheeler is ready! Hey, look! Travis d’Arnaud is here!!!” — but the early signing of Michael Cuddyer this winter (at the expense of a first-round pick), the 2014 2nd-place finish in what is shaping up to be a not-too-intimidating NL East, promising performances in ’14 from some of our younger guys, the return of Matt Harvey, and the fact that David Wright has to be better than the injured shell of himself he was last season— all of these things encouraged Mets fans into believing that 2015 just might be the year the Mets are serious about “This Year.”

And then the Mets did nothing. Some non-moves were justified— a team with a strong rotation shouldn’t be expected to splurge on an ace pitcher. In fact, the Mets don’t really have too many positional holes. They have a 30 homer guy at first base, a very solid hitter at second base, a franchise player at third, one of the game’s most promising young catchers, a Gold Glove winner with a nice bat in center, and, after their early splash, a recent batting champion in left field. In right field, Curtis Granderson is a guy with 40-HR power who managed 20 HR in a down season (and a big ballpark). The bullpen ranked eighth in ERA last season, and we’ve all heard about the starting rotation.

Now— and this is mostly a topic for another article— the Mets could have upgraded at positions where they were already “fine.” “Fine” doesn’t make you a contender, so the Mets shouldn’t be content at all positions where they don’t have a gaping hole. That’s not enough. Teams need to be creative, and Sandy Alderson hasn’t shown much creativity. But the main gripe is– and should be–at the shortstop position.


The Mets stood pat in free agency when it came to the shortstop market, barely considering any of the main guys who were available (such as Hanley Ramirez). They spent their free agency dollars to fill their outfield spot when the trade market was more appealing for outfielders, and looked to use their trade chips to get a shortstop even though the price of a shortstop in trades appears to be astronomically high these days. You could argue their problems began here— they should have gone for a slugger in the outfield, so they could have gotten a contact-and-defense guy to play short.

But hey, nothing wrong with a nice trade. So why didn’t the Mets make any? Sure, teams were overreaching at first. Starlin Castro might not actually be worth two or three top prospects, for example. Didi Gregorius is decent and didn’t cost the Yankees too much, but the Mets were being asked to pay far more than the Diamondbacks ended up getting for him, and at this point, the Mets should probably be in the market for a more offensive-minded shortstop anyway. Jimmy Rollins could have been a nice fit, but reports (some of which have been disputed) suggested that he didn’t want to be a Met.

So when the two best offensive shortstops in the game hit the market, you pounce, right? It’s what the Yankees would do if they had the prospects to trade. But the Mets aren’t the Yankees. So despite being towards the tail-end of an offseason when Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond both became available, the Mets appear poised to begin the 2015 campaign with Wilmer Flores, a good offensive shortstop who isn’t a shortstop and has only been good offensively in the minor leagues.


We know all about the risk factors with Tulowitzki. He would cost a lot in terms of trade chips, and he comes with a serious financial commitment. All of which would be fine (one would think; nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the Mets and their finances), because Tulo is a superstar. But he’s only a superstar when he’s on the field, and far too often in recent years, that has not been the case. If the Mets were to put so many eggs in such an injury-prone basket, the move could end up being disastrous.

Desmond is also a terrific player, and the Washington shortstop has managed to stay on the field far more often than his Colorado counterpart. He would probably cost a bit less, too, and taking him away from a division rival would certainly be a nice bonus. But Desmond has only one year left on his contract, and has been completely unwilling to sign an extension with the Nationals thus far. Like Tulowitzki, Desmond comes with risk, in his because of the fact he could flee after the season.

The Mets apparently have not been involved in advanced talks for Tulowitzki, despite the fact that both teams know they match up well for a deal. It seems that a trade for Tulo might be more feasible closer to the trade deadline, when it will be more clear where the Mets stand in the National League (which might increase their interest) as well as how healthy Tulowitzki is after hip surgery (which might increase the cost).

A Tulo package might cost at least one top pitching prospect (Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz), another pitcher (Jon Niese? Dillon Gee?), maybe a hitting prospect or two (Kevin Plawecki? Flores?) and/or maybe a more established hitter (Daniel Murphy?). The Mets would also have to take on Tulo’s contract, which might reduce the amount they have to give to the Rockies in terms of assets. What’s for certain is that it would be a costly deal, but the Mets would be getting a superstar for their trouble albeit one with a very concerning injury history.


The Mets did have some more specific discussions about Desmond, reportedly getting involved in (and then pulling out of) discussions about a trade which would have landed Desmond in New York at the expense of Syndergaard, another top prospect, and possibly Dillon Gee. With Desmond only having one year left on his contract and the Mets not wanting to give up so much for a guy who might walk after one season, it was a reasonable decision for Alderson to walk away.

But what on earth is Alderson waiting for? Tulo and Desmond have their flaws, but if they didn’t these two studs wouldn’t be available. No team is going to be able to trade for the perfect player, because no team is going to be willing to trade away the perfect player. You can try to draft somebody, but it will take years for that player to arrive, and the Mets don’t have a first-rounder this year (it’s worth noting that losing Desmond in free agency would probably net them an compensatory first-rounder in the 2016 draft). Gavin Cecchini didn’t exactly blaze through the system. We could try tapping into the international market (Yoan Moncada looks appealing), but the Mets probably can’t go to battle with the top dogs when it comes to signing players. So taking a risk, trading for an expiring contract like Desmond, and then trying to sign the guy (you’re allowed to re-sign your own players, Sandy) in the winter might be the best—or only—move.

If Desmond helps make the Mets a contender, nobody will complain. If they struggle even after adding him, they could move him at the deadline. But being content to play it safe and keep waiting won’t work forever. When Syndergaard, Matz, and whichever other prospects the Mets want to horde are ready next year, Wright, Cuddyer, and Granderson will be a year older, Murphy might be gone, Bartolo Colon will be gone, and the Mets could very well end up trying to sell us on waiting four more years for a kid who is currently in tenth grade.

Maybe two top prospects is too much. Ken Rosenthal suggested the Mets try to deal Murphy and one top prospect for Desmond, and that is a deal I would probably do— re-signing Murphy and Desmond might be tough, but the Mets could certainly splurge to keep a great shortstop if they found themselves able to slot a cheap youngster like Flores or Dilson Herrera at second base. But would the Nationals be willing to take a deal like that? Who knows? (Well, Alderson could certainly find out by picking up the phone.)

So what’s going on? Why is Wilmer Flores going to be our shortstop, and why have we only made one relevant acquisition this winter? It all comes down to money. In free agency, that’s obvious. But the Mets’ financial woes plague them in trades as well. Let’s not waste time discussing whether the Mets can spend money, whether they should spend money, and the like. The Mets AREN’T spending money right now and certainly can’t be counted upon to do so in the near future.

Teams with low budgets can’t afford to take risks in a trade. They can’t trade for a guy who might be eating up what little payroll room they have while sitting on the disabled list. They can’t trade cheap, controllable prospects for guys who are expensive and might leave after one year, leaving the team with the original problem and now less surplus in trade chips.

A rich team can lose a trade, waste a top prospect, and fill the hole by signing a 30 year-old free agent (or these days, a young star from Cuba). But a “poor” team, and the Mets are sadly operating like one of those right now, can’t take these risks. Well, they can, and sometimes they might need to, but it’s certainly far less appealing to the guys who make the decisions, and for good reason.

So while it’s frustrating to see a big-market team not spending enough money to produce a winning product, fans also have to watch a general manager working under a set of constraints that discourage him from making trades that under normal circumstances would be no-brainers.

Colorado Rockies v New York Mets

So, for many reasons, Wilmer Flores is our shortstop. And it’s frustrating, because we’ve been promised an upgrade at that position seemingly every offseason since Reyes left. Maybe Flores will be a solid contributor at the plate. He has potential, he has shown flashes, and he’s still young. But we can’t count on it, and we certainly can’t count on him to be good enough with the bat to compensate for his poor defense, which we can only hope will become average with practice.

On the bright side, the Mets, for the first time in a long time, should be buyers at the deadline rather than sellers, so we could see them trade for at least one impact bat mid-season. If the rest of the team plays well enough to warrant seriously “going for it” in 2015, Desmond, Tulo, or another legitimate shortstop could be a Met before too long. But there are no guarantees with this team. They have shown a lack of creativity, a lack of aggressiveness, and in some cases, an apparent lack of awareness when it comes to the nature of the market and the opportunities which can suddenly arise in any market.

The Mets won in 1986 without a star shortstop. Shortstop quality isn’t the lone factor in a team’s success. But the Mets don’t have many areas where they desperately need improvement (this is a good thing), and they appear to be on the cusp of relevance (also a good thing). So to see them stand pat while there is at least one obvious spot at which an upgrade can be made, and precious wins can be added, it’s certainly frustrating, and hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer.

*Note: This article was written in response to several mailbag questions centered around the Mets’ continuing shortstop search.


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Backman Expresses Concern About Playing Flores and Murphy Up The Middle Sun, 11 Jan 2015 17:01:03 +0000 wally backman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s Easy To Forget How Good Jon Niese Has Been Sat, 13 Dec 2014 20:12:28 +0000 jon niese

Reading the tea leaves, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon will all inevitably be traded in the near future sooner or later and certainly before their team control with the Mets expires. Top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard will likely come in and assume a rotation spot this season, followed by the final development and eventual promotion of Steven Matz who will ultimately replaces fellow left-hander Niese.

The question is, what will Matz have to accomplish at the major league level in order to reproduce the void created by Niese’s absence?  What would it take for the younger to surpass the elder?

Matz and Niese have often drawn parallels between one another because they are both southpaws and were each drafted and developed by the Mets. However, Matz is still just a prospect and there’s no telling if his career will ever match or surpass what 28-year old Niese has been able to accomplish thus far as a major leaguer.

Jon Shestakofsky, Manager of Media Relations and Baseball Information for the Boston Red Sox, tweeted an interesting fact about the top five starting LHP in the National League who’ve racked up the most wins over the last three seasons (’12-’14). Here’s how the best stack up:

1. Clayton Kershaw (51)

2. Madison Bumgarner (47)

3. Gio Gonzalez (42)

4. Cole Hamels and Wade Miley (34)

Next on that list would be none other than Jon Niese with 30 wins. During that three year span, Niese also produced an impressive 3.49 ERA.

Niese also ranks in the top twenty among all NL pitchers over the last three seasons in the percentage of ground balls induced (14th) and the percentage of men he’s left on base (19th).  By most measurements, Niese is a well above average veteran starter.  His  cutter and his curveball blend beautifully with one another when they’re both clicking and he gives the Mets a reliable weapon to throw off the timing set by the other hard throwing righties.

While we’re all excited to eventually see Steven Matz who brings the same tools as Niese and is supposedly better, it’s easy to forget just how valuable Niese’s performance level, grit and determination is.

Niese has pitched well above what’s considered average among all starters, but even better, he’s up there with some of the best among lefties. He quietly produces and gives you all the things you look for in a hard-nosed veteran, yet there he sits, quietly on the trading block, biding his time.

Does it make sense to hang onto Niese at least until we know exactly what we have in Matz? Or should Sandy deal our only proven lefthanded starter when the first decent offer comes along?

Lets! Go! Mets!

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Alderson Shifts Gears, Now Looks To Free Agency For Shortstop Wed, 10 Dec 2014 00:44:24 +0000

Speaking with reporters at the Winter Meetings, Sandy Alderson shifted gears again and now says it’s more likely the Mets acquire a shortstop upgrade via free agency, rather than the original plan which was to execute a trade using the Mets’ pitching depth.

This certainly changes a lot for the team, who had several high end, team friendly options to build a trade around. But the issue was always the asking price for the Mets. The Cubs wanted more than one front end starter for Starlin Castro, who was an All-Star three out of his first four full seasons in the league, but lacked the complete set of tools worth the caliber of a pitcher like Zack Wheeler or Jacob deGrom.

In a different age and time, both of those pitchers would have been a reasonable asking price for a high end offensive minded shortstop like Castro. Today, the game is evolving quickly from power hitting to power pitching and Alderson wisely held on to his most valuable assets.

The Mets have drafted, traded for and groomed some incredible prospects, and so far many of them have panned out and met the hype surrounding them. Again, it’s the timing that makes it so special too.  Just take a look at the Atlanta Braves as they scramble to restructure their organization. They’re assembling a team that resembles that of the Mets, Marlins and Nationals; power pitching complimented by offense, not the other way around.

The shortstop situation now likely includes names like Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew although Lowrie and Drew would be strictly for defensive purposes with Cabrera being the complete opposite.  Truthfully, a strong defensive minded shortstop to couple with Juan Lagares up the middle could give the Mets a combination of pitching and defense that could vault them into contention.  A healthy and productive David WrightCurtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer would also do wonders to support this pitching and defense for an overall balanced attack.

Sandy Alderson also shot down statements made by Terry Collins suggesting that Ruben Tejada would be competing with Wilmer Flores for the starting shortstop job this Spring. “I guess conceptually it’s a possibility.  They’ll both be there.”

Honestly, I get the impression from Sandy that he’s hard at work while those around him are hard at work making his work harder.  In those moments, he’s had a sense of humor and if you sit back and think of how frustrating it must be for him to manage and change the perception of this team, you have to give the man some credit.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how all of this ultimately plays out for the Amazins.


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MMO Trade Target: Starlin Castro, SS Sun, 05 Oct 2014 03:00:21 +0000 Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres

The Mets have a solid foundation of pitching to go with a young core of position players, many of whom emerged as stars in 2014.  The team is no longer looking to rebuild, their disenchanted fan base has high expectations and a New York based franchise stocked with farm talent should have no trouble making a high impact acquisition in the offseason. In all reality, the winter spending is questionable, although team COO Jeff Wilpon did state that payroll flexibility is available going into 2015.  Regardless, the Mets minor league system is so rich in power pitching that almost any team should be open to making the right deal.  It makes more sense to seek out the best talent in the league first before signing someone out of a weak free agent class.

If the Mets are going to part ways with blue chip prospects, it should net a return that will hurdle the team into contention.  The player should be young, approaching the peak of their power range and under a team friendly contract for multiple years. The “Red Sox Model” of investing in mid-premium talent works when your home ballpark turns routine fly-outs into doubles and doubles into home runs, but Citi Field’s dimensions don’t offer that luxury. Enter Starlin Castro.

The Cubs’ 24 year old shortstop is a flat out stud at his position and his 2014 performance was certainly worthy of his third All-Star selection. Among all qualified major league shortstops, Starlin was 1st in batting average (.292), 2nd in OBP (.339), 3rd in SLG (.438), OPS (.777) and wOBA (.341). If you look at the list of qualified shortstops under the age of 30, Castro is number one in all those categories.  

In 134 games (season shortened by a sprained ankle), he posted 14 home runs (5th) and 65 RBI’s (7th). He played 161 games in 2013 and 162 in 2012, so it’s reasonable to expect an uptick in those figures if he’d played a full season.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Mets struggled to hit the ball with men on base this season and it was undoubtedly the difference in a long list of close games that resulted in missing the playoffs for an 8th straight season. Castro’s bat has the stats to qualify him as a difference maker in this category. For his career (2010-2014), he has a (.297) batting average and a (.342) OBP when men are on base.

Equally important is the fact that his production doesn’t dip at Citi Field. It’s rare for any player not wearing a Nationals uniform to maintain their home field production in Flushing, so how does Castro stack up?  Starlin played his first game at Citi Field in 2011 and has posted encouraging numbers there since. His career (.304) batting average and (.429) slugging percentage at Citi deviates in an upward direction from his overall career numbers, but only slightly, and certainly not enough to be considered skewed.  His ability to hit for average with plus power in Queens should be the most relevant stat line of them all.

The cost is where the debate lies. The asking price in assets is going to be steep and it should be, Castro is a top young talent at a premium position for a relatively cheap price. The five years and $43 million left on his very team friendly contract comes with a one-year option for 2020, when he’ll only be 30.

The Cubs aren’t going to settle for a straight up one-for-one trade because that would be a clear signal that GM Theo Epstein is unfit for his job. Realistically, they’ll want some combination of a highly touted front end starter (Zack Wheeler/Jacob deGrom/Noah Syndergaard) and a not quite elite, but still top prospect (Rafael Montero/Steven Matz). The Mets might be able to work a Kevin Plawecki into the conversation in order to take one of the top end starters off the table, but the Cubs aren’t totally devoid at catcher and they’re deep at every other position on the field, so it’ll likely come down to strictly pitching.

The Cubs’ bullpen ranked 15th in ERA and gave up the 8th most earned runs in the majors this season, so a top end reliever could be a piece, with a front of the rotation starter, to push a deal  over the top. But that depends on the value Chicago will get initially. For instance, any deal that includes Matz as the second piece instead of Montero is probably where the Mets will end their offer.

My Take

It’s not just the production Castro would bring, but the attention he would take off of David Wright, who desperately needs to revitalize his output after an injury riddled season that included a number of career lows. Having Starlin in the #2 hole with Lucas Duda cleaning up behind him would create a lot of opportunities for David, who has carried this offense plenty of times before. There’s lots of time left to evaluate all the options the Mets have, but if Sandy Alderson is going to acquire a proven top talent at shortstop, Castro is where the conversation should start.

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Prospect Pulse: Steven Matz Is Developing Into a Complete Pitcher Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:00:59 +0000 Jeff Roberson Associated Press  steven matz

Several of the Mets prospects this season have made tremendous progress. Players like Dilson Herrera and Kevin Plawecki have made a lot of strides in 2014, but it could be argued that the most improved player this year has been left handed pitcher Steven Matz. Matz has experienced success in the minor leagues before, but this season has clearly been his most impressive.

In 24 starts this year, Matz was dominating. He started the season off with an excellent 2.21 ERA in 69 innings for the St. Lucie Mets, and was then called up to AA-Binghamton mid-season where he continued to thrive. Matz’s ERA stood at 2.27 over 71 innings for Binghamton, and he also owned a strong 1.12 WHIP and 8.7 K/9. The most encouraging aspect of his season has been his seamless transition to AA. Hitters at the AA level are far more challenging than in Single-A, so the fact he continued to pitch there at a high level is a fantastic sign.

Matz’s success this year is mainly the result of his improved secondary pitches. In previous seasons, Matz relied heavily on his fastball. Now he is effectively mixing in his changeup and curveball in order to put hitters away. Matz was taught how to throw his curve from pitching Coach Frank Viola when he was with the Savanah Sand Gnats, and it has now developed into a solid breaking pitch.

While Matz would often struggle with his command in the past, this does not seem to be an issue for him any longer. Matz exhibited outstanding control in the second half of the season for Binghamton as he walked just 17 batters in 71 innings pitched. It is also worth noting that Matz’s walk rate has dropped every single season during his career. He walked 5.3 batters per nine innings in 2012, 3.2 in 2013 and 2.2 in 2014.

One concern that still remains for Matz is his injury history. He missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery, and he missed the entire 2011 season due to set backs. Some analysts are also worried that his mechanics could lead to another injury, but the good news is that Matz has been healthy and injury free for the past two years.

Whenever a left handed pitcher has an explosive fastball that sits in the low to mid 90’s like Matz does, it’s hard not to get excited. What makes Matz even more intriguing is how he has grown and matured as a pitcher. Matz always had the ability to become extremely successful on the mound, but it has just been a matter of him staying healthy and refining his control and off speed pitches. If Matz can continue to build on his positive performance this season, it is likely that he will be a key piece in the Mets rotation for years to come.

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Mets Minors Report: Leathersich To Triple-A, Den Dekker Ready For Promotion, Verrett Wins Ninth Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:00:19 +0000 MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Miami Marlins

Last Night’s Quick Scores

Prospect Pipeline

  • Logan Verrett, who hasn’t won a game since July 19th, pitched a gem on Monday tossing eight innings, allowing one run on three hits, while walking three and striking out seven to earn his ninth victory on the season.
  • Matt den Dekker was 3 for 4, and hit his eighth home run for Vegas with a walk, and has hit safely in eight of last ten games batting .417 (15 for 36) in that span.
  • Matt Reynolds went hitless in four at bats, ending his nine game hitting streak. 
  • Outfielder Maikis De La Cruz was 4 for 6, with two runs scored, a double and drove in three runs in St. Lucie’s dominating win on Monday. He has hit safely in seven of his last eight games with five multi-hit games in that span.
  • L.J. Mazzilli went 2 for 4, with two runs scored, a double and two RBI’s, In his last ten games, he has scored eight runs, drove in six and has five multi-hit games in the span.
  • Domingo Tapia won his fifth game on the season for St. Lucie by tossing 5.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned), walking two and striking out five.
  • Center fielder John Mora, who was recently promoted from the Gulf Coast Mets to Brooklyn, was 2 for 4, with a run scored and a double.
  • Michael Conforto singled in four at bats and drove in his 10th RBI on the season. In 17 games, he has 22 hits in 62 at bats (.364).
  • Lefty closer Shane Bay tossed 1.1 innings striking out one and earning his 10th save (5th straight) for Brooklyn. 

Prospect Spotlight

Jack Leathersich was promoted to Triple A Las Vegas on Monday for his second go around with the 51′s. In 2013, the lefty pitched in 28 games with Vegas and was 2-0, a 7.76 ERA, with 29 walks and 47 K’s in 29 innings. For the start of this season, he started with Binghamton, and in 37 appearances, he was 3-3, 2.93 ERA, with a save and 79 K’s in 46 innings. Leathersich who has been shown to be wild at times, walked only 21 batters in the 46 innings he has pitched for Bingo, which is a huge improvement from the previous season.

News From The Farm

A new TV show this season for the Brooklyn Cyclones.


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Alderson Says Niese Will Not Be Traded, But Who Will? Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:41:03 +0000 jon niese

If you thought being 11 games under .500 and 10 games out of first on July 3rd was evidence enough that the Mets will be sellers at the trade deadline for the fourth straight season, you are wrong. That is, of course, if you were to take anything Sandy Alderson says at face value.

The Mets general manager told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he likes where the Mets are and has no plans to make any significant changes.

“We kind of like our team,” Alderson said. “If you look at the run differential, we should be a .500 team. We’re not. At the same time, it doesn’t mean we should throw everyone overboard.”

“We’re not happy with our record by any means,” Alderson said. “We’re thinking we have the potential to be better than our record.”

Alderson acknowledged that the team needs to get better at coming up with timely hits which is what he believes accounts for a league worst 10-20 record in one-run games.

“That has got to change.” Alderson said, but he didn’t blame the bullpen.

“We like the pen. We like the rotation. Neither is where we want it to be ultimately,” Alderson said.

Regardless of what Sandy told him, Heyman says it’s inevitable that the Mets will be sellers before the July 31 trading deadline – and I agree.

However, one player who won’t be fitted for a new uniform is lefthander Jon Niese who is currently 5-4 with a 2.88 ERA.

“We like Jonathon,” Alderson told CBS Sports. “He’s the only lefty in the rotation. We’d be hard-pressed to trade Niese.”

Niese has been the most consistent member of the starting rotation this season, owning a remarkable streak of not allowing more than three runs per game that goes all the way back to last season.

He also has a very team friendly deal, earning $5 million this season, $7 million in ’15 and $9 million in ’16. Additionally the Mets have team options for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. I love Niese and with the only other lefthander in the system still at least a year away (Steven Matz), they’d be crazy to have the NL East feasting on five righties in the rotation. 

So if Niese is safe from the ax, which players are not?

Here are my top five players that are likely to be shipped off before the deadline along with the degree of certainty that they will be ex-Mets.

  1. Daniel Murphy – 85%
  2. Bartolo Colon – 70%
  3. Bobby Abreu – 50%
  4. Daisuke Matsuzaka – 40%
  5. Eric Young Jr – 30%

Now whether we’re trading for more prospects who can help in a few years or if we’ll see Alderson finally bring in a player who can immediately fill a need on the major league squad, well that remains to be seen.

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Mets Minors Notes: Nimmo, Matz Could Be Heading to Binghamton Wed, 18 Jun 2014 15:00:32 +0000 brandon nimmo

The St. Lucie Mets are nearing this season’s first-half title of the Florida State League.  What does that mean?  Adam Rubin of ESPN mentions that Mets prospects Brandon Nimmo and Steven Matz, should be on the move to Binghamton, which could happen as early as the end of the week.

Nimmo, 21, has played in 62 games this season for St. Lucie.  He is currently hitting .322, with four home runs and 25 RBI.  He has an OBP of .448, and his OPS is .906.  This by far is Nimmo’s most productive season as a professional and a move to Double-A Binghamton is certainly deserved.

Steven Matz, 23, has made 12 starts this season.  He holds a record of 4-4 with an ERA of 2.21.  In 69.1 innings pitched, he has given up 66 hits and recorded 62 strikeouts.  The lefty has pitched six or more innings in five consecutive starts.  Matz is another arm that deserves a chance at the higher level due to his performance since being a part of the organization.

In other Mets minors news:

Jeff Walters, who is on the Mets 40-man roster, opted for Tommy John surgery instead of rehabbing his torn UCL in his right elbow.

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MMO Exclusive: One on One with Catching Prospect Cam Maron Thu, 27 Mar 2014 04:03:00 +0000 cam maron

The Mets signed catching prospect Cam Maron in the 34th round of the 2009 Amateur Draft from Hicksville High School, in Hicksville, NY.  Maron, who is entering his sixth season in the Mets farm system, continues to make progress towards his dream of one day playing major league baseball.

The anticipation that a player feels prior to being drafted is sometimes filled with so much anxiety just knowing that they have been working the majority of their lives to reach that point. When the day finally arrives, it’s a moment of joy and celebration for the athlete as well as for their entire family.

Maron shared with me how his special day unfolded, “I’ll never forget it was the last day of classes in high school.  It was day three of the draft and I was very anxious and excited, and I didn’t sleep much that entire week.”

“I didn’t say anything to anyone, but I was getting phone calls and texts messages from family members and friends for the rest of the day. I remember the school announcing everything over the PA system. I was humbled, grateful and very thankful for the love and support that I received on that day.”

The Long Island native was taught the game of baseball by his father and he shares how one decision he made would change the way he would approach the game, “I remember my dad teaching me how to hit; he used to set me up right-handed and I would secretly switch my hands to left-handed as he turned his back and walked away. He would ask, ‘Why are you holding your hands like that?’, I used to say that it was comfortable, and he wouldn’t buy it.  After some while, he said, ‘All right, hold your hands like that but lets stand on this side of the plate’ (which was the left-handed side).  The first swing I smoked a line drive right past him and he said this kid is a lefty. The rest is history.”

The lefty hitting catcher starred at Hicksville high school and felt he made the right choice to pick pro ball over college to follow after his dream, “Looking back on it, I don’t remember it being a tough decision because I just wanted to play baseball, especially professional, since I was an early teenager. At the time, I think it was pretty tough because the normal teenage progression is going to college after high school, but I felt like I was prepared and I was going to put 100% of my effort into playing ball and getting better every day.”

“College will always be there and I will eventually go back to class at some point, but the time to play baseball is a very small window and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity as soon as it presented itself.”

camden maronIn 2009, Maron was sent to the Gulf Coast Rookie league and played two seasons and combined he batted .303/.409/.427, with two home runs and 14 RBIs. He was then promoted to Kingsport (Rk) for the 2011 season and batted .318/.434/.413 with three home runs and 24 RBIs in 201 at bats.

The ideal promotion would have been to go to Brooklyn and not just because it was the next level up, but because it would mean that Maron would play baseball in his own backyard. “Playing in Brooklyn was something that I thought about as soon as I became a player in the organization. It would have been a really cool and amazing experience to be able to play so close to home,” says the catching prospect.

But that was not in the plans as he jumped a level and was sent to Savannah to finish the 2011 season and appeared in just one game.

In 2012, he remained with Savannah and batted .300/.403/.408, with five home runs and 47 RBI’s in 343 at bats.

Each season in played pro ball, he continued to make the right adjustments and progress and he shared with me how he has been able to stay focused and on the right path, “I think the adjustments were more off the field than on the field.  Getting used to the area and the routine each different manager had were the biggest things I remember.”

“Most of the teams we play throughout the minor league levels are the same, so their players are advancing at a similar rate as we are, most of the time. The pitchers I faced and the hitters I studied at lower levels are appearing again as I move up the ladder, and I have notes and reports on most of them, and that helps to formulate my plan for each game in the present.”

After his big season with the Sand Gnats, the Mets promoted Maron once again and he was sent to Class A Advanced St. Lucie for the 2013 season and it was the first time in pro ball that he experienced some adversity, “2013 was a great learning experience for me.  I learned a lot about myself and how to handle myself when things aren’t going right.  I took a lot of those situations and stored them in my mind for the future and ways to avoid them.”

With St. Lucie, he batted .235/.327/.295, with no home runs and 29 RBI’s in 285 at bats, “I think I was pressing too hard and trying to do too much at the plate and that attributed to my struggles. I was much less consistent and that was all on me. I looked in the mirror at the end of 2013 and said it was over now, time to flush all that out, and start on a new season.”

When the season was over the Mets sent him to participate in the Arizona Fall League and he felt honored to represent the organization, “I want to thank the Mets for the opportunity to play in the AFL, it really was an incredible experience that only a handful of players get to do.”

Maron continues, “The competition is really second-to-none, the best of the best in the minor leagues, all in one place. I learned a lot of things about game-calling and sequences, against higher-level players, on both sides of the ball. I wish that it was longer than six weeks, but the experience is invaluable and it is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.”

In the AFL, the catcher batted .216/.365/.255, five runs, two doubles, and 12 walks in 17 games and when it was over, he was not done getting ready for the 2014 season, “I resumed my usual winter workout routine back home on Long Island to do my strength and conditioning training at Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City, under strength coach Dean Maddalone.”

“We had a great group of guys that worked out, including major leaguers Jose Reyes, Pedro Beato, Adam Ottavino, along with fellow minor leaguers Steven Matz , Willie Carmona, Keith Couch, and a few independent-ball guys. Its a great atmosphere and we all push each other to get better, I would never train anywhere else.”

“I do all of my baseball activity, both hitting and defensive drills, at Performance Factory in Farmingdale under head hitting specialist Joe Francisco.  I have been hitting with Joe since I was a sophomore in high school and I can go to him for anything, he is like a second father to me, especially when it comes to anything baseball related.”

Now with the new season upon us, he will soon find out what team he will suit up for in 2014, and the hope is that he continues to move up the levels and continues to produce. “I am really looking forward to getting back out on the field with all my teammates and competing.  No matter how much you try to simulate a game situation, there is nothing like being in the heat of the battle with all your teammates, all pulling together for the same thing.”

Cam answered a few more questions for me; enjoy his responses.

David – Was there a coach/manager that you feel has helped you with your growth and development throughout the years in the minors?

Cam - There have been so many great coaches and managers throughout my minor league career, I can’t really say there has been one specific coach that stands out more than the others.  Our minor league catching coordinator, Bob Natal, has taught me a handful of things in each aspect of catching, whether it be mental, receiving, blocking, etc.  He is really a wealth of information, and there is rarely a question that he does not have an answer to.  All of my coaches have been very helpful and resourceful when it comes to growth and development on the field.  I am a firm believer that we are a combination of all the experiences we have endured throughout our lives, and that there is something to be learned every day.  I try to take a handful of useful information from each coach each year and put it all together with everything else I have learned.

David – What part of your game do you feel has improved over the past season?

Cam - I feel that my overall defensive game, especially my game-calling, has taken tremendous strides forward in the past year.  Although I did not feel great at the plate on most nights last year, I took it upon myself to still make a difference and help our team win by calling a solid game and helping to guide our pitchers along whatever plan we had in place.  I also feel that my exchange and throwing has come a long way in the past year and I have a lot more confidence during games now.

David – Anything you would like to share with the Mets fans?

Cam - Regardless of where I have played, there have always been Mets fans, whether it be in Scottsdale, Kingsport, Savannah, or St. Lucie, and sometimes even on the road.  Being a native New Yorker, and a Met fan growing up, I know how strong and well spread out the fans are.  I would just like to thank everyone that has supported the Mets, and specifically myself, throughout our careers.  We would not be anywhere without all of you, and I look forward to seeing you guys at the ballpark supporting us!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Thank you Cam for taking the time to share your journey with MMO and all our great readers. We look forward to another great Mets baseball season. LGM!

Watch Cam participate in a batting instruction video with Performance Factory:

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Steven Matz Makes Grapefruit League Debut Mon, 03 Mar 2014 13:03:28 +0000 steven matz

Matz displaying the changeup grip.

You’ve heard the name before, but 2013 was the first real look at the Mets’ LHP prospect Steven Matz due to him missing significant time recovering from arm injuries.

I recently named him as my Mets’ pitching prospect to watch in 2014, as he seems to be on a path to be named a top-five prospect very soon. When a scout finds a left-handed pitching prospect that bring an electric 95 mph fastball, it’s like a fisherman landing an 800 pound marlin. It’s easy to see why the Mets protected Matz from the Rule 5 Draft, and added him to the 40-man roster—every angler looking to hook an 800 pound marlin would have cast their line into the water.

Not many Mets fans have gotten a chance to see this young man pitch and see why everyone is so excited. Unless you live in the Savannah area, odds are you are limited to the one video that can be found on YouTube that shows Matz throwing about 15 pitches—some better than others. You may have also seen a Vine of him spinning things on his finger like a Harlem Globetrotter. However, if you hung around long enough in the Mets game yesterday, you would have gotten a chance to see Matz on the bump.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 8.00.38 AM

Matz came in the fourth inning of yesterday’s matchup against the Cardinals, and gave Mets fans another glance of what the future holds. The first batter he faced was Yadier Molina—talk about pressure. He quickly got behind 3-0 in the count, as he couldn’t spot his fastball. But Matz battled back, and struck out Molina on six pitches.

Facing his second batter, he flashed two very good curveballs before giving up a base hit on a fastball.

Here is some further analysis of what we saw in Matz’s appearance yesterday.


This is a plus offering for Matz. The command was a little shaky yesterday, but it’s very early in the year. With more innings, the command will come. He wasn’t afraid to come inside on the right-handed hitters, and was very aggressive with his fastball, which was very nice to see from a guy who brings a mid-90s heater.

Curve Ball

I have heard that Matz has scrapped the slider in favor of a more effective curve ball, and yesterday was the first chance I got to see it. His curve didn’t have the 12-to-6 break you normally see, it was more like 11-to-5, but it was extremely effective. However, he stuck to fastballs for the majority of the pitches he threw.


Matz throws a very solid changeup that has plus-potential. It has excellent movement—tailing away from the right-handed hitters/in on lefties. He struck out a batter with a changeup to end the fourth inning yesterday and it looked nasty. With his velocity, he can pepper fastballs on the inside half, and changeups on the outside half to keep the hitters off-balance, and be very successful.

In all, Mets fans should definitely look for great things from Matz in 2014. It’s easy to see why he is creating a buzz and there is a ton of excitement building for the young fireballer again. He struck out over 28% of the batters he faced in 2013 and put up a FIP of 2.63, which is excellent. He will probably start the season in St. Lucie and be a nice replacement as the ace of the staff after Noah Syndergaard set St. Lucie ablaze in 2013.

Bold Prediction: After watching him pitch in yesterday’s game, he has the stuff to skip to Binghamton. If he doesn’t start there, he should join Binghamton right around the All-Star break. He could be in the mix for a 2015 call-up and possible bullpen option for late 2014 if he doesn’t exceed his innings limit.

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Scout On Steven Matz: He’s Definitely Back On The Radar Again Sun, 09 Feb 2014 18:50:48 +0000 steven matz

Marc Carig of Newsday posted a nice piece on Melville, Long Island’s Steven Matz and it was interesting to see what a couple of scouts said about the young lefthander.

“If something’s going to get him to the major leagues, it’s going to be the effectiveness of his fastball,” said one rival scout, who believes Matz could reach the big leagues as a starter in two or three years.”

“He definitely has a chance,” said another rival evaluator. “His stuff is good enough. He’s definitely back on the radar.”

Check out Carig’s entire article, it’s definitely a good read.

I love hearing stuff like that on our young prospectsEnjoy this interview we posted before the weekend with Matz:

MMO Exclusive Interview With Steven Matz

Over the past several seasons the Mets have shown us how important pitching is to the organization.  They have developed and brought up many homegrown pitching prospects to debut with the team including established pieces like Jon NieseDillon GeeMatt HarveyZack WheelerJenrry Mejia, and Bobby Parnell. Each have shown signs of excelling at the major league level, and in the case of Harvey even dominate at an All Star level.

The Mets still have many more young and exciting arms still to come that are flourishing in their talented system. Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero head this cast of featured attractions, but there’s another name who is quickly gaining that same star prospect status and is moving up he ranks; lefthander Steven Matz.

Matz, 22, helped the Savannah Sand Gnats win the 2013 SAL Championship with a dominating pitching performance that flew under the radar. The former 2009 top pick for the Mets started  21 games for Single-A Savannah and posted a 2.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and struck out 121 batters in 106.1 innings pitched while walking only 38.

steve matz 1He helped lead the Sand Gnats through the playoffs with two dominating performances. In Game 2 of the first round he pitched 7.0 innings of one-hit ball with eight strikeouts and he didn’t give up a run in a 5-0 victory.  In Game 4 of the Championship series, he allowed just four hits, recorded 9 strikeouts and didn’t give up an earned run in 5.2 innings, while earning the victory in both games to clinch both series.

When asked what was it like to be so dominating and be able to lead the team to victory, Matz said, ”It was an awesome feeling to pitch in both clinching games, that’s just kind of the way it felt. We would have felt comfortable throwing any of our guys on the clinching games, because that’s how dominant our whole pitching staff was. It was a great way to finish the season for our team. Personally I am glad I was able to finish strong, and ultimately help the team win a championship.”

Matz was picked by MMO at No. 10 on their Top 25 Mets Prospect list for 2014. He may be a couple of years away, but if he continues with his development, the Mets look to have another high ceiling pitcher to add to their growing stable of young arms.

Enjoy my conversation with Steven Matz as he gets ready for spring training and the 2014 season… 

David – Is there something that you would like to share with the Mets fans that they do not already know about you? Your interests, hobbies outside of baseball?

Steven - Even though I am from Long Island, NY,  I enjoy the outdoors a lot. I love hunting and fishing, and I mostly picked these hobbies up after I started playing for the Mets, but now I am hooked.

David – What would it mean to you to be able to make your major league debut at Citi Field, knowing that your family and friends are not too far away on Long Island?

Steven - It would be pretty awesome if I could make my major league debut at Citi field. Not many people ever get that chance, let alone having your debut within an hour from your house. It would definitely make it easier on the family, because I know most likely all of them would be there. (My family are big baseball fans)

David – Who was a big influence for you while growing up and playing baseball?

Steven - My Dad was the biggest influence for me growing up. He spent hours upon hours at the field with me, and took me all around the country to play in tournaments, showcases or whatever it may be. I also see how hard he worked to give our family a good life, and he took that work ethic and instilled it in me and my siblings.

David – On the day that you were signed by the Mets in 2009, who was the first person you shared the news with?

Steven - Well I was sitting on my couch with my parents; I had a pretty good feeling that I was going to get picked, just not sure where or when. My aunt and uncle who live down the road had a bunch of people over their house. When I heard my name called, I went over there. It was a pretty exciting time.

David – In 2012, you played your first pro baseball season with Kingsport, what was the experience like to finally be on the field again?

Steven - To finally get back on the field felt great. I felt a little lost out there at first, but I was able to get my feet under me a little bit towards the end of the season. Kingsport is a great place to start a career, I feel.  You have loyal fans, but not too many where there is tons of pressure. Also, we traveled to some cool places up in the Appalachian Mountains.

David – In 2013 with Savannah, you appeared in 21 games and pitched well in your first full pro season, what can you say attributed to your turnaround?

Steven - I don’t know what really made me turn the corner; I thank God for my health this year as I pretty much did the same thing I do every year as far as the off-season. I know a big contributor, as far as staying on the field and rebounding in between starts, was our trainer Tom Truedson. I knew Tom since 2009 and he’s seen the troubles I had with being able to stay out there and pitch.  We had a good routine that he’d have me do and it helped a lot. Also Frank Viola worked with me on a routine as far as a throwing program; we sat down and put one together and it helped me feel good for each start.

David – Can you describe the feeling of winning the South Atlantic League Championship, this past season with Savannah?

Steven - The feeling of winning the championship really is a great feeling. A lot of people were unsure of how we were going to do without our sluggers like Jayce Boyd and Kevin Plawecki. It was cool to see other guys step up. We all worked hard all year, and our manager Luis Rojas kept with us and pushed us every day. I have never won a big championship like that before, and it was a great feeling to finish out on top.

David – What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?

Steven - It’s hard to put a finger on any one guy because we had some many good performers this season. Jayce Boyd, however, is an unbelievable hitter. He’s fun to watch hit, and he is such a smart hitter.  I like to pick his brain on what he is thinking while he is up there at the plate.

David – Is there a Met manager or coach who has made an impact in your approach to the game and helped elevate your performance?

Steven - Having Frank Viola as my pitching coach this year was a true blessing. Having a 15 or 16 year big league career, he has seen it all. He really knows how to optimize a pitching staff. He knew what each of us were capable of and he didn’t let us do any less. And it showed.

David – With the success you have had in your brief time in the minors; do you feel like you are on track with the goals you set for yourself? If so, what are you expecting for 2014?

Steven - Yes I do feel I am back on track. This past season I set a goal of 100 innings and including the playoffs I tallied 119 innings. For next season I would like to bypass the 130 inning mark, and let the rest take care of itself.

David – Moving forward, what stands between you and the big leagues? What do you specifically need to work on as a player, and improve upon, in order to be ready to compete on the big stage?

Steven - I think there are a few things that stand right now, the main being just the experience. Just logging innings would definitely polish all I have right now. I would also like to find more consistency of my breaking pitch. This season I did lack a little confidence out there that Frank Viola and I talked a lot about. Confidence in every pitch and knowing that I am able to go out there and dominate. Because you have to know you can before you actually do.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

We want to thank Steven for giving us some time… He is a solid young pitcher with great potential and will eventually make a major impact in the Mets rotation.  Maybe by then Harvey will be back in full force, Wheeler and Syndergaard will be top of the rotations staples, and Matz can be the power lefty that gives them the rotation to win a crown.

Look for Matz to begin the season Advanced-A St. Lucie and make it up to Double-A Binghamton, following the same track as Noah Syndergaard last season.


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2014 Mets Top Prospects: No. 5 Kevin Plawecki, C Sat, 08 Feb 2014 17:37:30 +0000 Top 25 Prospects plawecki 5

No. 5 Kevin Plawecki, C

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Kevin Plawecki doesn’t quite have the ceiling as Travis d’Arnaud but he’s a nice prospect in his own right. He was drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft out of Purdue University; a draft in which catching was scarce. He’s probably a better natural hitter than d’Arnaud but does not have the same power potential. His swing is short and quick resulting in good contact and a ton of line drives so he does have the potential to hit .300. The organization is moving Plawecki up the ladder at somewhat of a snail’s pace and I don’t understand why because his hitting approach is quite advanced and he’s already 22.

Across Savannah and St. Lucie last season Plawecki slashed .305/.390/.448 in 449 AB’s with 8 HR’s and 80 RBI’s. Also impressive were his 42 BB’s, compared to 53 K’s, which tell you his patient approach will yield a very good OBP with low strikeout numbers. As he adds more strength, naturally his gap to gap power will result in more home runs but I don’t think he’ll ever hit more than 20 in any season of his career. He’ll probably end up a 10-15 homer player but that’s still more than acceptable power production from behind the plate, especially if he’s putting up those kind of numbers with a borderline .300 average. He doesn’t have the greatest arm behind the plate but he supposedly has a quick release that still allows him to nail his fair share of baserunners. On top of that, he’s a great receiver and knows how to handle a pitching staff so he should have no trouble sticking as a backstop.

Outlook: Right now the organization sees Travis d’Arnaud as the catcher of the future so unless he fails, you’d have to wonder if Plawecki ever sees Citi Field. There’s a few different paths that Plawecki could take to the majors. If d’Arnaud is a complete bust, than Plawecki is nice insurance and should get an opportunity with the Mets to prove his worth. If Travis d’Arnaud reaches his potential and the Mets truly do have a franchise catcher on their hands, Plawecki could be a nice trade piece to help bring an impact bat to Citi Field. If he can continue to put up good offensive numbers in the upper levels of the minors while proving he can stick behind the plate, he should have no problem finding himself in the top 100 MLB prospects by the time he is big league ready. The fact that he is a catcher would increase his value as well because catchers who can hit are becoming awfully hard to find these days. Lastly, and the least likely scenario, is that Plawecki could be moved to first base if his skills behind the plate are deemed unworthy. Plawecki simply won’t hit for enough power even be considered an average first baseman so hopefully that is not the case. He’ll most likely begin the year in Binghamton and if he hits there, the Mets would be smart to move him up to Las Vegas by the end of the season so he starts to turn some heads and draw some attention from other teams.


25. Wilfredo Tovar, SS

24. Juan Centeno, C

23. Cory Mazzoni, RHP

22. Jeff Walters, RHP

21. Jack Leathersich, LHP

20. Luis Mateo, RHP

19. Jayce Boyd, 1B

18. Domingo Tapia, RHP

17. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

16. Vic Black, RHP

15. Michael Fulmer, RHP

14. Jeurys Familia, RHP

13. Dilson Herrera, 2B

12. Jake deGrom, RHP

11. Gavin Cecchini, SS

10. Steven Matz, LHP

9. Brandon Nimmo, CF

8. Amed Rosario, SS

7. Cesar Puello, OF

6. Wilmer Flores, 2B

5. Kevin Plawecki, C





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2014 Mets Top Prospects: No. 10 Steven Matz, LHP Sun, 02 Feb 2014 14:46:06 +0000 Top 25 Prospects matz 10

10. Steven Matz

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 192 lbs.
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: Right/Left

Steven Matz finally put together a full season in professional baseball last year, which was an encouraging sign in itself. Even more encouraging was the extent of the success he had. In 106.1 IP, Matz blew away hitters with 121 K’s, a 2.62 ERA, and a 1.17 WHIP. He currently throws his fastball from 90-94 mph, which is very encouraging coming from a lefty. He could even add more velocity as he gains more strength going forward. He scrapped his mediocre slider and added a curveball to his arsenal instead. It is inconsistent at the moment but has the chance to be an above average pitch when all is said and done. He also has an impressive changeup that could become an above average pitch in the future as well.

Matz’s command became a tad shaky as last season progressed but that’s completely understandable considering he threw more innings last season than any other by a wide margin. There have been some concerns about his mechanics and delivery, which could land him in the bullpen if they are not fixed. One concern I noted in multiple scouting reports was that after he releases the ball, his delivery comes to an abrupt stop. This is and the fact that he tends to use his arm more than he has to could cause more injuries as innings pile up. Kinks that need to worked out in his delivery should not be too worrisome just yet, however, because he’s still pitching in A ball and as he climbs the ladder, they should be worked out. Something as simple as a follow through could probably be fixed fairly easily with a good pitching coach.

Outlook: Matz will almost certainly begin the season in St. Lucie and might even end it in AA since he is already 22 years old. If he can stay healthy for another full season, the organization will be that much more inclined to put him through the system at a faster pace than normal so he could theoretically make his debut sometime in the second half of 2015. Matz is already the best southpaw the Mets have in their organization so if has the kind of success this upcoming season as he did in Savannah last year, he will continue to climb top prospect lists in a hurry. His fastball is likely to add some velocity as he gains strength and his secondary pitches will become more refined as he throws more innings. As a lefty, a mid 90’s fastball with above average secondary pitches is enough to be successful in the middle of a rotation or higher. However, if Matz does not polish up his mechanics as he climbs the minor leagues, he could end up in the bullpen if the organization decides that’s best to keep his health in check; kind of like what the White Sox tried to do with Chris Sale before he proved himself in the starting rotation. However, with improved command and mechanics, his three pitch mix is more than enough to allow him to stick as a starter.


25. Wilfredo Tovar, SS

24. Juan Centeno, C

23. Cory Mazzoni, RHP

22. Jeff Walters, RHP

21. Jack Leathersich, LHP

20. Luis Mateo, RHP

19. Jayce Boyd, 1B

18. Domingo Tapia, RHP

17. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

16. Vic Black, RHP

15. Michael Fulmer, RHP

14. Jeurys Familia, RHP

13. Dilson Herrera, 2B

12. Jake deGrom, RHP

11. Gavin Cecchini, SS

10. Steven Matz, LHP










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How The Mets’ 40 Man Roster Was Assembled Mon, 06 Jan 2014 18:38:29 +0000 david wright

David Wright is now the Mets’ longest tenured player.

The Mets 40 man roster presently has 38 occupants.

12 of those are occupied by players acquired during Sandy Alderson’s tenure.

25 were acquired under Omar Minaya.

1 was acquired under Steve Phillips.

So how was the present 40 man roster assembled and by whom?

Sandy Alderson:

TradeVic Black, Travis d’Arnaud, Zack Wheeler, Eric Young.

Free AgencyBartolo Colon, Scott Rice, Carlos Torres, Andrew Brown, Chris Young, Curtis Granderson.

WaiversRyan Reid, Anthony Recker

Omar Minaya:

International Free AgentJeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, Jenrry Mejia, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, Wilfredo Tovar, Juan Lagares, Cesar Puello

DraftJacob deGrom, Josh Edgin, Dillon Gee, Erik Goeddel, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Jeff Walters, Juan Centeno, Ike Davis, Zach Lutz, Daniel Murphy, Josh Satin, Matt den Dekker, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Steve Phillips:

DraftDavid Wright

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A Closer Look at Mets’ LHP Prospect Steven Matz Tue, 31 Dec 2013 16:29:08 +0000 steven matz

Matz displaying the changeup grip.

You’ve heard the name before, but 2013 was the first real look at the Mets’ LHP prospect Steven Matz due to him missing significant time recovering from arm injuries.

I recently named him as my Mets’ pitching prospect to watch in 2014, as he seems to be on a path to be named a top-five prospect very soon. When a scout finds a left-handed pitching prospect that bring an electric 95 mph fastball, it’s like a fisherman landing an 800 pound marlin. It’s easy to see why the Mets protected Matz from the Rule 5 Draft, and added him to the 40-man roster—every angler looking to hook an 800 pound marlin would have cast their line into the water.

Not many Mets fans have gotten a chance to see this young man pitch and see why everyone is so excited. Unless you live in the Savannah area, odds are you are limited to the one video that can be found on YouTube that shows Matz throwing about 15 pitches—some better than others.

This is the video from Bullpen Banter that was recorded back in early April, 2013:

It was recorded very early in the season, but I am going to analyze and share for you what I picked up in the video.


Whenever I look at a left-handed pitcher’s mechanics, I hold them up against Cliff Lee. There is some slight cause for concern with Matz’s mechanics, especially coming off significant arm injury in the past. The motion is smooth, but he cuts himself off during the follow-through which causes his arm to recoil back which puts strain on the upper arm. You can see how his arm recoils pretty violently in the video. He does a good job hiding the ball but working on the follow-through will also help him finish his pitches.


This is a plus offering for Matz. He kept all the fastballs down in the zone in the video, which is where he will want to live as a pitcher. The command was a little shaky, but as I said earlier, this video was taken very early in the year. With more innings, the command will come. He wasn’t afraid to come inside on the right-handed hitters, and was very aggressive with his fastball which was very nice to see from a guy who brings a mid-90s heater.


There was only one or two sliders thrown in the video, and they were hung up in the zone. Luckily the batter fouled off one of the hangers, but as Matz pitches against upper-level hitters, they will turn those hangers into screamers. I have heard that Matz has scrapped the slider in favor of a more effective curve ball, but since he did not throw one in the video, I do not have a report on the effectiveness of the pitch.


Matz throws a very solid changeup that has plus-potential. He used it very effectively against right-handed hitters in the video, keeping it on the outside of the plate. It has excellent movement—tailing away from the right-handed hitters/in on lefties. He used a nice combination of fastballs on the inside half, and changeups on the outside half to keep the hitters off-balance.

In all, Mets fans should definitely look for great things from Matz in 2014. It’s easy to see why he is creating a buzz and there is a ton of excitement building for the young fireballer again. He struck out over 28% of the batters he faced in 2013 and put up a FIP of 2.63, which is excellent. He will probably start the season in St. Lucie and be a nice replacement as the ace of the staff after Noah Syndergaard set St. Lucie ablaze in 2013.

Bold Prediction: Matz will breeze through St. Lucie and be promoted to Binghamton right around the All-Star break. After spending a month or two in Binghamton, since he is already on the 40-man, he will be a September call-up and pitch out of the bullpen for the Mets in 2014.


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Do The Mets Have A Top 10 Farm System? Wed, 18 Dec 2013 17:48:27 +0000 syndergaard montero

Matt Mosher writes…

During a Baseball Prospectus Chat today, I asked Jason Parks, their head prospect guy, if the Mets farm was Top 10. (I assumed they were) He replied that they definitely were not.

That’s noteworthy because I believe he ranked them at No. 10 last year. So, at least according to one outlet, the farm’s overall ranking has dropped. Be interesting to see if Baseball America drops them some too. They are usually more harsh on the Mets than BP is. The lack of bats is completely killing them.

Joe D. writes…

Thanks for the heads up. I’m not surprised at all. With Zack Wheeler now in the Majors, you’d have to think they’d take a hit. But what really hurts them most was that top picks Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini didn’t burst out of the gate the way everyone expected. Additionally, their top position player Cesar Puello was suspended for PEDs.

I would say the Mets are probably in the 14-16 range and mostly because of Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, a solid and “healthy” season from Steven Matz, the emergence of Gabriel Ynoa and Jeff Walters, and Kevin Plawecki producing in A-Ball. By the way, how bad was that Fangraphs Top 10?

* * * * * * * *

Here are a couple of relevant Mets related questions from yesterday’s chat at BP:

Maybe an early holiday gift for readers: OFP grades/lines for Syndergaard, Stephenson, and Giolito? 

Syndergaard: 7 FB; 7 CB; 6+ CH
OFP: 7; No. 2 starter

Stephenson: 7+ FB; 7 CB; 5+ CH
OFP: 7; No. 2 starter

Giolito: 8 FB; 8 CB; 6+ CH
OFP: 8; No. 1 starter

The Mets are a top ten farm, right?

No. They aren’t a top ten farm. They have some very nice pieces, but it fades quickly after the first few names on the list.

Is Dominic Smith already the #1 ranked 1B prospect in the game? Potential 25/100?

I don’t see that kind of over-the-fence power from him. I like the bat, but I wouldn’t take him over Singleton, even with Singleton’s recent run of slack.

Thanks to Matt Mosher for the email and link to BP…

Presented By Diehards

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First Rounder Dominic Smith More Advanced Than Expected Tue, 17 Dec 2013 20:50:01 +0000 dominic smith

The analysts over at Fangraphs compiled their 2014 Top 10 Prospects in the Mets farm system. They took a good look at each player listed and included an in-depth individual assessment of their choices.

They ranked the prospects in order:

#10 — Wilmer Flores (3B)

#9 — Gavin Cecchini (SS)

#8 — Steven Matz (P)

#7 — Jacob deGrom (P)

#6 — Kevin Plawecki (C)

#5 — Rafael Montero (P)

#4 — Amed Rosario (SS)

#3 — Dominic Smith (1B)

#2 — Travis d’Arnaud (C)

#1 — Noah Syndergaard (SP)

It was interesting to see Dominic Smith placed so far up in the order after only his first season as a professional. The young first baseman is only 18-years-old, and Fangraphs was extremely impressed with the mentality and abilities he displayed this season. Smith spent most of his time this season with the GCL Mets hitting .287/.384/.407, before being moved to Kingsport for three games. However, Fangraphs believes this is only the beginning of his rapid ascent.

The Scouting Report: Smith was even more advanced at the plate than expected. He should hit for average and power while also getting on-base at a healthy clip. His power is generated by quick bat speed and he doesn’t have to pull the ball to hit it out of the park. Like many young hitters, he has work to do against same-handed pitchers. At first base, he could develop into on of the best fielder in the game at his position thanks to his athleticism around the bag and soft hands.

The Year Ahead: Smith is advanced and mature enough to handle a jump to full-season ball in his first full pro season. He could move fairly quickly for such a young player and could reach the Majors in late 2016.

The Career Outlook: Smith has a chance to be an impact player both as a middle-of-the-order hitter and as a defensive whiz at first base.

Fangraphs also included a short briefing on the five players who just missed the list. These names included Dilson HerreraMichael FulmerDomingo TapiaBrandon Nimmo and Vic Black.

Over at MetsMinors, we have compiled our own prospect ranking. You can find our list of the top 25 prospects here.

(Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

button lets go mets

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MMO Rising Stars: Gabe Ynoa Is The Next Rafael Montero Thu, 28 Nov 2013 15:33:25 +0000 gabriel ynoa

We all fall in love with certain prospects, and you all know that Gabriel Ynoa is that guy for me. I haven’t spoken about him in a little while, so I figured it was time, right?

The Mets honored him as this season’s Pitcher of the Year after he won 15 games to the tune of a 2.72 ERA. Although I would never discredit Steven Matz’s excellent work, Ynoa was certainly an integral part of Savannah’s run to the playoffs and subsequent championship win. He won two games in the playoffs, and allowed just two runs over 14.2 IP.

Now, I’m aware that Ynoa isn’t exactly billed as the best pitcher in the system, but it was nice to hear DePodesta talk him up a little. Here’s what he had to say:

“We think he’s the next Rafael Montero in our organization,” DePodesta said of the 20-year-old. “You hear the term ‘projectable lefty’ often. You don’t hear the ‘projectable right-hander’ often, but that’s what Ynoa is. When he first came over from the Dominican Summer League and pitched in the Gulf Coast League in 2011, [he had a] very clean delivery, good tempo and was mainly at 87-89 mph, but had a good year because he’s a good strike thrower. He was only 17, 18 at the time.

“He goes to Brooklyn [in 2012] and the velocity is more like 88-91 mph and occasionally touched 93 mph. He had a dominant year in Brooklyn. This year it was 90-94 mph and touching 95 mph. He’s still a very young guy — we’re very excited to see the continued development because of the great delivery and athleticism. He’s a guy who has a chance to move quickly if he keeps this up.”

Now that is some high praise right there! I can reference this the next time that I have a Ynoa love-fest. First off, projectable righty is an excellent way to describe him and perhaps why I feel so confident in him. His velocity has increased since he joined the Mets as a teenager and he has demonstrated excellent command. The next Montero? You can probably bet on it. :D

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MMO Exclusive: Blaming Sandy Alderson Mon, 25 Nov 2013 20:08:35 +0000 We are pleased to welcome the talents of Robert Walsh to our staff at Metsmerized Online.

It is now known that sometime this month, under a cloak of secrecy demanded by such bold initiative, Sandy Alderson visited Chris Young somewhere out west, ostensibly we can conclude to pitch him on the merits of signing a free agent contract with the Mets. Nary a tweet on Twitter revealed the details of the delicate operation, nor the results the monumental meeting pawned. The burglars of Watergate would be envious.

sandy alderson

To clear up any immediate confusion — Alderson did not go see Chris Young, the gutty but sore-armed pitcher, who the Mets have already signed twice. Rather he went to see Chris Young, the center fielder, who it has since been announced the Mets have signed to a free agent contract — to hit, not pitch. Apparently to not play center field, either. In light of all that appears troublesome with this signing, where the Mets most recently signed Chris Young plays in the field might be disingenuous nitpicking.

For the past three years, like the proverbial carrot, this was heralded as the winter of recalibration for the Mets, when 2 large contracts became extinct, and the Mets would return to acting as a large market team. Most Mets fans grudgingly accepted their collective fates and continued to be what they – we – are, fans.

Although we visited Citi Field less and less, we, the truest of fans, held up our side of the bargain. The Mets side of the ledger, they promised, would be to increase payroll this winter, bring in better players through trades and free agent signings, and return to a playoff caliber team. Not the AAAA teams we have endured.

To kick off this grand plan, the Mets will spend $7.25 million for a player who hit .200 last season, and gets on base less than than the kids who on special fan days get to run around the bases before games. Hell, Chris Young, the pitcher, who happens to be quite a hitter, would be embarrassed by the 2013 production of Chris Young, the hitter. Not the Mets. Not Sandy Alderson, who sure knows how to pinch $7.25 million worth of pennies.

In a kind of bargain with all that is illogical, it is agreed, in Alderson’s bell curving defense, that this signing can’t be any worse than wasting wads of cash on a hall of shame of degenerates, malingerers and malcontents that has been Alderson’s inexplicable bent to this point in time — see, Marcum, Rauch, and the gem of all, Francisco. That’s $23 million of post Madoff money down the drain. Wasted on three horrible baseball players. Put another way, it could have paid Jose Reyes’s salary for a couple of years more.

Even now, the question of why the disgruntled, lazy, contagious Francisco was ever paid to pitch for the Mets pains the intellect. Was the likable Tejada, once an eager young man with promise now sadly derailed, infected by the sour Fransisco while both supposedly rehabbed in Florida? Marcum and Rauch similarly strain logic and patience. Ask Harvey, as pure a professional athlete as they come, what he thinks of the overgrown bully, Rauch. It’s as if Alderson went looking for the most despicable players on the free agent market, and then overpaid for them.

Alderson and his brain trust (excuse the inelegant satire) remain focused on repairing this team through the draft. A good enough plan, it might seem, if it didn’t devolve into becoming ignorantly fixated on drafting every day position players regardless of who was available at their draft slot.

To wit: Alderson’s crack team passed on Jose Fernandez. And they passed on Michael Wacha. And Sonny Gray. Why? To draft 2 position players – Brandon Nimmo, who we know famously didn’t play high school baseball, and Gavin Cecchini, a shortstop who, at best, belongs in a long past era and not in one where power hitting shortstops are becoming an offensive necessity. You’d be hard pressed to find a single scout in baseball who thinks either of these two players can be anything more than an average major league players, under ideal circumstances.

Think of which position players Fernandez, Wacha, and Gray could have returned on the trade market this winter had we drafted them. Keep in mind – we’d still have Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Gee, Montero, Syndergaard, Mejia and the rest. In other words, we’d potentially have one of the greatest staffs in the history of the game, young and under full team control for years, with a few extra top of the rotation prospects to trade off for an established super star or two.

While Nimmo and Cecchini struggle in the low minors, Fernandez was named Rookie of the Year, and finished third in Cy Young voting. Greatness beckons. Gray and Wacha had much postseason success, and should have brilliant careers. It is less idle daydreaming and more a systemic repudiation of Alderson’s drafting philosophy that if they had drafted Fernandez, they could have, in a case of brutal irony, traded him for his current teammate, Giancarlo Stanton, who actually has a chance to be a franchise player. Ergo, and this is not rocket science, the Mets would have had that dominating franchise player they hoped to draft in Nimmo in Stanton, the result of drafting Fernandez.

Now, had they not told the world that they had deliberately passed on Fernandez, who they discounted solely because he was a pitcher, then its a different story. A choice between two viable players, and they picked, wrongly, who they thought was the best prospect. Happens all the time. But since they NEVER considered Fernandez, the pitcher, because they had stubbornly made their minds up not to draft any pitcher with the first pick, the result becomes something much closer to howling organizational absurdity – the kind petty self-absorbed dictators who refuse to listen to anyone else make.

All this makes one wonder exactly how the brain trust of the Mets makes decisions, and what degree of contempt and arrogance towards the fan base factors into the equation. Here’s the obscene part of this sham they have perpetrated. In the 3 years going on 4 years that Alderson has been GM, just about everything good that has happened to the Mets in that time period, and it hasn’t been much, has a direct link to the hated, exiled in disgrace, former GM, Omar Minaya.

Emotions aside, let’s objectively consider the facts, which is something far different than having Alderson’s pedantic rhetoric about rebuilding what Minaya destroyed shoved down our throats. Or its alternate disingenuous delusion: blaming it all on Madoff, another self-serving red herring. In truth, the Mets owners received twice the money they invested with Madoff – even in their world of constant lies, that’s quite a profit. Real estate, the Wilpon’s prime means of money making, is also on a strong rebound.

Facts, of course, have an annoying habit of being true. Here’s a few for consideration.

Harvey? Minaya draft pick. Its almost blasphemous to write this, but one sees a young Seaver here. Yet Harvey already seems more than up to the task.

Wheeler? Traded for Beltran, a great player for the Mets for 5 years, signed by Minaya, when no one of consequence would sign here.

Travis d’Arnaud? Not happening if Minaya didn’t sign RA Dickey, the kind of low risk, high reward player Alderson can’t seem to find, despite his ridiculous fawning over Sabermetrics. Also add in that Mets fans have rarely had the pleasure of having a player with Dickey’s heartwarming humanity to root for – indeed, Dickey makes some of Alderson’s acquisitions seem even more monstrous in comparison.

Noah Syndergraard? Perhaps the jewel of a very pitching rich minor league system, see above.

Jenrry Mejia (whose stuff last year was electric), Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz … I think you see where this is going. All drafted or signed by Minaya.

In balance, Alderson did make the two trades mentioned above. He has also managed to accomplish another milestone of some note in 3 years.

At this precise moment in his grand scheme to return the Mets to relevance, the team has one of the lowest committed payrolls in major league baseball — prior to the Young signing, less than $30 million, and almost all of that to one player, David Wright. Small market teams smirk at such a pathetically low number.

This, after a recent Bloomberg audit had the Mets franchise valued at over two billion dollars. Alderson must see the Mets fans as rubes, when he repeatedly promises ‘significant’ acquisitions’ this winter, and a payroll of $100 million by spring training – and then begins this massive revamping with the signing of the likes of Chris Young, a very insignificant player, to a very significant contract.

To be clear. As a periphery player to add depth – and take a shot at his production returning – the signing of Chris Young for a few million dollars for a single season would seem about right. Heralding the ‘new’ era in spending, on star players, after so much suffering as fans, not so much. We’ve drunk this cool-aid from Alderson before, and except for Byrd, who the Mets should have resigned instead of Young, bottom feeding misses far more often than it works.

Beyond all the posturing, proselytizing and prevarications by Sandy and his brain trust about Madoff and Minaya, the $2.05 billion Mets continue to have the lowest payroll of the large market teams. A 2014 budget of $87 million is now being bandied about, but even that comes with stipulations.

Unless something changes real fast, we have only the transformative genius of Sandy Alderson, who made his career proudly pinching pennies in small markets, to blame.


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