Mets Merized Online » strikes Thu, 24 Apr 2014 22:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO Morning Grind: The Umpire Strikes Back Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:14:39 +0000 wright_you_are_the_worst

“You’re the worst, you’re the worst I’ve seen.”

Daniel Murphy and David Wright were both tossed out of the game in the seventh inning on Sunday after arguing what they thought was a low strike zone by home plate umpire Toby Basner.

Both players were in the dugout when they were ejected and reports say they each went ballistic after watching catcher Travis d’Arnaud called out looking at strike three.

“Everybody who watched the game knows, I don’t think I have to say anything else about it,” Murphy said after the Mets’ 14-2 loss to the Angels. “A ‘disagreement’ was the best way to describe it.”

Wright refrained from giving his side to what happened.

“I’m not going to get into that,” Wright said. “I’m not going to get into more trouble than I already am. There were some disagreements.”

Both Wright and Murphy already had their own altercations with Basner earlier in the game. Murphy started for first base after a 3-2 pitch believing he had drawn a walk, only to realize he was called out on strikes, and Wright stepped out of the batter’s box and went at it with the ump over a very low called strike.

The umpire was awful and his strike zone was lower than I’ve seen in a long time. However, he was consistent with it – at least against the Mets he was.

The Mets struck out eleven times in the game and that brings their total to 122 through 12 games – averaging more than ten a game. That’s the worst mark in the majors.

Murphy, Wright and d’Arnaud were all rung up unfairly in my opinion, by an umpire who seemed to enjoy punishing the team with his comical calls. It was good to see Murphy and Wright defend d’Arnaud as they did. Props for that… But let’s not overlook the fact the Mets are on pace to smash the all time modern record for strikeouts in a season. That’s a bigger problem than three bad calls from a substitute ump.

(Animated gif by Daily Stache)


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Backed By Two Chris Young Homers, Montero Stellar Again Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:49:50 +0000 Montero_Rafael

Rafael Montero rebounded from a not so typical start last week, and delivered a dazzling 6.1 inning performance on Sunday afternoon as the Las Vegas 51s beat the Fresno Grizzlies 10-4 at Chukchansi Park.

Staked to a 1-0 lead courtesy of a first inning home run off the bat of rehabbing outfielder Chris Young, the 23-year old righthander went straight to business and fired off five straight innings of no-hit ball until he was finally greeted by a leadoff double to begin the sixth.

Montero would eventually get tagged for a home run in the seventh before giving way to the bullpen. The Mets’ control-artist finished with a solid performance, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out four. Of his 87 pitches, 57 of them went for strikes.

One other notable highlight from this game was the performance of Chris Young who went 5-for-5 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when Young is activated from the disabled list on Friday when the Mets return to Citi Field to begin a ten-game homestand against the Atlanta Braves.

What are the odds Terry Collins makes the right decision? What is the right decision?

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Backman Says Tempo Was Issue During Syndergaard’s Start Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:43:33 +0000 Noah Syndergaard

1:30 PM

Just a quick update on this as Noah Syndergaard and manager Wally Backman both commented to the Las Vegas Review-Journal about last night’s performance.


Wally Backman:

“His tempo was way too slow tonight, especially early in the game. He got better as the game went on but there were times he was 20-plus seconds in between pitches. His stuff was there, but everything you hear about in baseball is rhythm and timing and it wasn’t there tonight for him.”

Noah Syndergaard:

“I could’ve sped my tempo up a little bit better. It’s something that’s kind of hard to pick up for myself. It’s something I kind of have to be told. I felt like I did pretty well. I feel like the stat line really doesn’t do it justice. I felt I made some pretty good pitches. They just got the barrel on the ball and got them over the infielder’s head. … My arm felt a lot better and my body felt better than my first start, but my results weren’t near as good.”

7:00 AM

All things considered, it wasn’t an awful performance for Noah Syndergaard, who made his start for the Las Vegas 51s on Wednesday night.

Over five innings, Syndergaard gave up six hits, four runs (three earned), walked two, and struck out two while throwing 91 pitches – 61 of them for strikes. The ground outs to fly outs ratio was a nice sight at 8:3 and he was able to limit the damage stranding 11 River Cats.

When Syndergaard struggled, it looked like he struggled pretty hard. He began the game giving up a leadoff double which he later allowed to score on a single with two outs. The following inning, a Wilmer Flores error at SS was sandwiched between two walks. The run would soon come into score on a double play started by Flores.

Thor didn’t get into trouble again until his 5th and final inning (which he went into with 74 pitches).  After the 51s tied up the game on a Bobby Abreu single and an Eric Campbell homer, Syndergaard promptly surrendered the lead again. He started the 5th inning giving up a single and double before getting an out, and then gave up back-to-back singles to put the River Cats ahead by two again. The bleeding was stopped after Syndergaard induced a double play.

It definitely wasn’t Syndergaard’s best showing, and it was almost made a little more unsettling after Rafael Montero‘s “mortal” five inning effort the day before. Obviously, there were a ton of things that Montero couldn’t personally control about last night, and the same goes for Syndergaard in this game.

While Flores’ glove and range had a significant negative impact during Montero’s outing last night, it didn’t really have much bearing on Syndergaard’s start. It was only one run. The two batters Syndergaard walked, were well earned. He couldn’t find the plate and his second walk was on four pitches. Clearly, control was a bit of an issue in the 2nd inning.

Personally, it could just be a catching issue. I’m not sure I’m a fan of Taylor Teagarden behind the plate. Anyway, while Thor’s performance was far from horrible, it’s probably going to worry some fans regardless.

But keep in mind that even the best pitchers in the game can have a rough outing or days when they don’t have their best stuff – it’s how they rebound from those starts that makes them so good.

I look forward to watching how Thor responds the next time he’s on the hill, and I’d bet that he comes thundering back – hammer in hand.

(Photo: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News)

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Mets Can Send Lannan To Minors Without His Consent Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:20:09 +0000 jiohn lannan Phot by Howard Simmons, Daily News

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, before John Lannan was added to the Opening Day roster, the Mets had the southpaw sign an “advance consent” waiver.

That means Lannan pre-authorized the Mets to send him to the minors at any point during the first 45 days of the season — which also would negate receiving his full $1.5 million big-league salary, which otherwise would have been guaranteed.

The collective bargaining agreement states that a player with more than five years of MLB service cannot be sent to the minors without his consent. 

So far this season, Lannan has made three appearances and has collected just three outs. In that one inning of work he’s allowed four hits including two home runs, plus a walk. 

During the spring, Lannan pitched in seven games and was 0-2, with a 4.91 ERA, but he won a spot on the opening day roster to relieve after losing the fifth starter competition. This is his first stint as a reliever.

Terry Collins explained his ineffectiveness as follows:

“One of the pitches that makes him so effective is his change — and his slider. And when he comes in against lefties, he’s basically falling behind to where he’s been unable to use those pitches sometimes. You’ve just got to hang with him because it’s a new role. One of the reasons why we thought he could do this job was because he throws strikes. When you start to nibble and fall behind out of the bullpen, it’s tough duty for you.”

The bottom line is that this team cannot afford long leashes on poor performers. Give Lannan another 2-3 appearances as reliever and then reevaluate. If he needs to go, then send him to Vegas where he can get some more work in his new role. We have plenty of solid young options who are craving an opportunity to succeed out of the pen.


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With A Heavy Heart, Colon Delivers A Sparkling Performance Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:20:23 +0000 USATSI_ bartiolo colon by brad barr

One of my favorite moves of the offseason was the signing of Bartolo Colon to a two year, $20 million dollar deal. And while I never expected him to duplicate his near-Cy Young season of a year ago, I loved the veteran presence he was bringing and his ability to bear down in every game, throw strikes and give our team a chance to win.

Once you get past all the fat and age related jokes, you might just find that Colon is every bit the ace of this team.

Last night we saw Colon stymie the Atlanta Braves and toss seven scoreless innings as the he picked up his first win of the season and his first as a member of the Mets.

There was no nibbling on the corners, no long delays in between pitches, and no unnecessary wasted pitches. All we got was a blue-collar, nose-to-the-grindstone performance – the kind we don’t get enough of.

Colon allowed just six hits, no walks and struck out five. In a word, he was stellar. Among his 101 pitches thrown, the soon to be 41-year old threw 65 of his 88 fastballs for strikes.

When he threw his final pitch of the evening, a 93 mph fastball to retire Jason Heyward on a groundout, he looked like he was ready to go all the way. This guy wasn’t even breaking a sweat.

“He was really, really good tonight,” said Terry Collins after the game. “He pitched in, pitched out, pitched down, pitched up. He really gave them a different look no matter what he was throwing. He really did a good job.”

Asked about his dominating performance, Colon told reporters he felt great. “Especially when you face a team as tough as Atlanta, you prepare to be very tough mentally. So that’s how I felt today.”

Perhaps his catcher Travis d’Arnaud described it best. “His ball moves all over. I don’t even know what to say. I just know he has command of all his pitches and he did what he wanted to do.”

What made his performance even more remarkable was that Colon pitched the entire evening with a heavy heart.

“I have not had my head in baseball for several days. Not since they called me from my house to tell me that my mom has cancer,” Colon told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.

His mother, Adriana Morales, had been diagnosed with breast cancer and Bartolo will learn the results of further tests today.

“It’s a situation where you’re trying to be strong, but you cannot,” Colon said. “Everyone in the family is very worried, hoping the results come out negative. But when you hear the word cancer, you always think the worst.”

Colon plans to bring his mother to New York to ensure the best care.

“My mom is my best friend, my confidant,” he said. “I talk to her every day, and the only thing that comforts me is that she has not lost her sense of humor. She is a very happy woman.”

Say a prayer for our ace who left it all on the field last night. Let’s hope he gets some good news today about his mom…

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My Thoughts On Montero To The Bullpen Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:44:06 +0000  Brad Barr USA TODAY Sports rafael montero

With the news that closer Bobby Parnell will miss the rest of the season after deciding to have Tommy John surgery, I received a couple of emails asking me if this could pave the way for the MLB debut of pitching prospect Rafael Montero.

The 23-year old control artist had a stellar season debut for Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday, tossing six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, walking none, and striking out five batters. Amazingly, of his 79 pitches thrown that night, 55 of them were strikes. As we’ve maintained all Winter long on MMO, Montero is ready to pitch in the majors.

The Mets’ plan all along was to start Montero in Triple-A and leave him there at least until April 11th when they will have essentially secured an extra year of team control on their prized righthander. But as that Friday cutoff date quickly approaches, the Mets don’t seem to be in any rush to bring Montero to the majors. For one, there’s no room in the rotation for him, and secondly he’s not ready to pitch out of the bullpen – at least not yet.

Terry Collins fielded questions about that before the start of the weekend series against the Reds. “You’re asking the wrong guy,” Collins said.

The Mets manager acknowledged that Montero (and Jacob deGrom) should be exposed to bullpen work in Triple-A so they could be promoted to the majors in a relief role if the major league bullpen struggles.

“You’re going to ask a kid to come to the big leagues and all of a sudden pitch out of the bullpen when he hasn’t done it. That’s why one of the things that’s going to take place in Triple-A is those guys are going to pitch out of the pen at some time — deGrom, Montero,” Collins said. “But when you bring this guy up and now you slam him in a role he’s extremely uncomfortable with, if he doesn’t throw a strike, what’s your next option?” 

Collins is right, and until Montero and deGrom are eased into bullpen roles at the minor league level, throwing either of them into a baptism by fire in a struggling major league pen could lead to disastrous results including season ending injuries. It will take time before their arms can adjust to pitching on back to back days – something neither of them have done in their pro careers.

The other thing to consider is whether this is something that benefits Montero and the Mets in the long run. Do we really want to take one of our top pitching prospects and throw him into the bullpen? What will this do to his overall value? We’re talking about a pitcher whose ceiling could be as high as a solid number two starter in the majors.

With viable options available in free agency like Kevin Gregg and Francisco Cordero, I would rather see us go in that direction than to throw Montero into the bullpen in a move borne out of desperation.

My hope for Montero was to see him debut as a starter and become a cornerstone in our rotation for years to come.

For now, there’s no room at the inn for Montero, but a lot can change over the course of the next four to six weeks. Let’s bide our time and see what happens before we jump the gun and do something regrettable.

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Mets Announce Dillon Gee Will Start Opening Day Mon, 24 Mar 2014 20:42:55 +0000 USATSI dillon gee

March 24

Mets have officially announced that Dillon Gee will be their Opening Day starter vs. the Washington Nationals on March 31.

Terry Collins made the announcement after Monday’s 5-3 win over the Cardinals.

Congrats to Dillon who finished strong last season.

March 21

Dillon Gee, who has been slated as the Mets Opening Day starter, pitched his second to last game of the Spring today against the Twins and was  satisfied with his performance, “I am happy with what I did today. I located well and threw my off speed pitches for strikes,” says Gee.

“That was outstanding. Even the umpire said every pitch he threw was going one way or the other. It’s a great sign. He felt great. He’s looked great,” says Terry Collins.

Gee threw five innings, giving up a run, on five hits, struck out four and has one more game before he finishes out the Spring.

When the official word comes down that will make Gee the Mets 23rd Opening Day starter, he will be ready and elated to get the start, “It will be a huge honor, says the right hander.

Watching Gee throw today, it is very evident that he is ready and should be given the opening day nod.  He located his fastball and off-speed pitches well and is poised and ready to get the start.  He says that the official word has not been given to him yet and that even his family has been anxiously asking, “I am still waiting on the final word, everyone is congratulating me, and my family is hearing about it and I tell them I haven’t been told yet.”

Having a healthy and dominate Gee will really help the rest of the rotation, and will give the Mets another quality arm that they can count on. The key is that he is ready and he feels he is, “I am ready to start the season. I feel really good,” says a confident Gee.

Let the games begin, the season can not start any quicker. LGM!

(Photo Credit: USATSI)

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John Lannan Fitting Right Into A Relief Role Mon, 24 Mar 2014 16:16:01 +0000 jiohn lannan Phot by Howard Simmons, Daily News

Adam Rubin of ESPN NY writes that left-hander John Lannan passed another test in his transition to a relief role, he entered mid-inning and inherited runners on base, for not only the first time in his career, but also the first time working on consecutive days.

Since switching roles, Lannan, has tossed two perfect innings in relief.

“That’s exactly how I envisioned it,” Collins said. “… I was glad we had the opportunity to get John in there with guys on base to face some lefties. That’s what I wanted. He did what he did yesterday. He came right at them, threw strikes and really had a good outing.”

“The adrenaline was definitely there today, more than yesterday, just because of the situation,” Lannan said. “I was still able to throw strikes. I faced two lefties in there, so it was a good experience.”

“It’s a start. It’s back-to-back days. I mean, it’s a hard thing to do. It’s going to be work, but I’m up for the challenge. The first two days have gone pretty well. I just have got to keep on learning and figure out a routine to be able to go out there back-to-back days on a consistent basis.”

If he continues to pitch this way once the season starts, the Mets could have one of the better bullpen’s in the National League, something that will help if they’re serious about competing for a wild card.

(Photo Credit: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News)

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Spring Training Recap: Mets 9, Twins 1 Sat, 22 Mar 2014 01:19:13 +0000 mets bench

The Mets traveled to Fort Myers today to face the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium with Dillon Gee starting the game and facing Twins Pitcher Ricky Nolasco.

The Mets came out on top 9-1 and finally improve their Grapefruit League record over .500, at 11-10.

The Mets opened the game fired up with their bats, lacing balls all over the field, and putting up a quick seven runs on the board in the first inning, with a single, three doubles, a triple and a home run.


Dillon Gee, who is slated to become the Mets 23rd Opening Day starter, came out fired up himself and struck out two of the first three batters he faced. He tossed 5 1/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits while striking out four batters. He looked good in this start and had batters swinging and missing at his fastball and off-speed pitches.

Scott Rice pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up a walk.  Jeurys Familia hitting the gun at 97 MPH, threw one inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Juan Lagares, who batted lead-off, did not participate in the Mets hitting attack, and went a quiet 0 for 4, with a strike out.

Rubin Tejada laced a double in his first at bat to extend his hit streak to 5 straight at-bats, but quickly hit a lazy fly ball in his second at-bat to break the streak. He finished the game 1 for 3, with two runs, a double and a walk. He is now batting .226 on the spring.

Lucas Duda joined the hit parade in the fourth inning, when he laced an opposite field home run over the left field wall. He went 1 for 3, with two runs scored and two RBI.

Ike Davis hit two doubles in the first and fourth and sandwiched in a walk and finished off the afternoon with a single in the seventh. His day ended with him going 3 for 3, with a run scored, a single, two doubles, a walk and two RBI.

Taylor Teagarden hit a long drive to left field for his first home run of the spring that put the Mets up 7-0 in the first. He finished the day, 1 for 4, with a run scored and two RBI.

Game Notes:

Juan Lagares looked uncomfortable at the plate, but the same as usual on the field. He made a tremendous throw and almost nabbed the runner at the plate. After a hitless day, his average dropped down to .286.

Ike Davis looked very good during warm-ups and during the game he ran very well and looks ready to take back first base, unless they trade him first.

Josh Satin made an embarrassing but funny play, when he was trying to get back to first base to avoid getting doubled up, he decided to dive back and came up about three feet short of the bag.

Coming up: The Mets travel to Jupiter on Saturday to face the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium with the first pitch at 1:05 pm, and Bartolo Colon scheduled to start.

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Wheeler’s Command Not as Bad as it Seems Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:00:16 +0000 zack wheeler 2

In a fantastic Fangraphs piece written by Jeff Sullivan, he acknowledges the imperfections in Zack Wheeler’s command and introduces the possibility of the receivers catching Wheeler playing a role in last season’s strike numbers.

Sullivan states that Wheeler certainly needs to polish his command to reach his lofty expectations. He’s always walked batters in the minors but, with his excessive strikeout numbers, they did not hurt him much. However, he’s currently guaranteed a rotation spot on the big club this season where he’ll have to throw more strikes and command his pitches with more efficiency to see the same results.

He also had this to say about Wheeler’s strike throwing ability:

“What we can tell is that Wheeler needs to throw some more strikes. Another thing we can tell is that that statement deserves an asterisk.”

What Sullivan means by this is that due to the poor pitch-receiving abilities of John Buck (1.7 strikes below average per game) and Anthony Recker (1.5 strikes below average per game), Wheeler’s strike percentage may have looked uglier than it could have.

He also points out that the receiving got better with Travis d’Arnaud’s promotion with whom he threw 62.5% strikes and only 0.5 strikes below average per start. With Buck and Recker, it was merely 60.4% and 2.8 strikes below average per start.

Here’s what Sullivan had to say if Wheeler had benefited from league average receivers instead of Buck/Recker:

“Wheeler lost some strikes in the zone, and he lost some strikes out of it. If you just plug in league-average numbers, then Wheeler would’ve gained about 35 strikes, lifting his strike rate roughly two percentage points”

Sullivan does not put all the blame on Buck and Recker however, as he suggests the possibility of Wheeler missing his targets, thus taking away the chance of a called strike. He also expresses confidence that Wheeler’s strike throwing ability will improve the more he throws to d’Arnaud and that it’s hard to imagine the situation being any worse than last season.

In the piece, Wheeler’s situation is compared to the progression of other pitchers with strikeout potential and command issues:

“I identified starting pitchers who were 23 somewhere between 2002-2011. Then I started to narrow the pool. I set a walk-rate minimum of 9%. I set a strikeout-rate minimum of 16%, and a contact-rate minimum of 76%. The idea was to get a group of pitchers who had some command issues, but who demonstrated true strikeout ability. I was left looking at 25 names, from CC Sabathia to Casey Coleman.”

The follow up was very promising:

“I then looked at what those same pitchers did in the following two years, spanning 24 to 25 years old. As a group, unweighted, they averaged 8.9% walks, 19.8% strikeouts, and 79.3% contact. Ten of the 25 pitchers were worth at least 5 WAR during the two years. Five were worth at least 8 WAR.”

Wheeler is certainly in good company as names on the list included Tim Lincecum, David Price, and Jon Lester among others.

Sullivan concludes the piece expressing his confidence in Wheeler’s ability to improve his walk rate beyond the simple advantage of having a better receiver. Although he conveys skepticism that Wheeler will ever be “great,” he expects him to be a great sidekick behind the Mets ace, Matt Harvey.

I urge everyone to read the full piece here.

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Spring Training Recap: Mets 3, Tigers 2 Sat, 08 Mar 2014 23:33:37 +0000 syndergaard by by BRETT BARR USATSI

The Mets came from behind and scored two runs in the ninth to beat the Tigers 3-2 this afternoon in Lakeland, Fla.

In his second appearance of the Spring, Noah Syndergaard showed he was mortal after all and struggled with his control during his three innings of work. The 21-year-old righthander allowed two runs on two hits while striking out three and walking three. It was a far cry from his first start on Monday against the Atlanta Braves when he tossed two scoreless innings.

Syndergaard lacked command, but was still throwing his fastball between 95-97 and reached 98 mph once. He was also betrayed by his defense including a grounder that got by second baseman Eric Young and allowed two runs to score.

At one point, catcher Taylor Teagarden needed to visit the mound to settle Syndergaard down. He ended the day throwing 52 pitches, 31 one of them for strikes.

What else happened:

Jacob deGrom pitched two shutout innings.

Juan Lagares singled twice, stole a base and scored a run. He’s now batting .400 this Spring.

Outfielder Matt Clark stroked a two-run, pinch-hit double to put the Mets ahead by a run in the ninth inning.

Jeff Walters pitched a scoreless frame and got the win, and Gonzalez German saved it with a perfect ninth.

Up Next:

The Mets head back to Tradition Field on Sunday and host the Atlanta Braves at 1:10 PM. Zack Wheeler will start for the Mets and the game will be broadcast on SNY.

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Murphy Opens Up About The Pressure Of Getting On Base Thu, 06 Mar 2014 17:52:30 +0000 daniel murphy

Have you ever wondered what it must be like to feel the pressure to perform that most hitters endure everytime they walk to the plate?

It’s so easy for fans to say this guy needs to draw more walks or that guy needs to hit in the clutch… We spend hours upon hours debating with each other about always wanting more from our players, without ever thinking about it from their point of view. That’s why I loved this interview that Andy Martino conducted with one of my favorite current players, Daniel Murphy.

“This entire game is about anxiety,” Murphy says. “The whole thing. It’s about anxiety from the time you wake up in the morning. You’re just funneling to seven o’clock. It’s all building to there. The least amount of anxiety we have all day is after the game, when we go to sleep. That’s when we just decompress.”

This is the human side of trying to be a selective hitter, writes Martino. Even the most talented ballplayers in the world, those who can hold down a job with a major league team, get jumpy, insecure — and these feelings build during an at-bat, as the count deepens.

“It’s two different things that I have to be aware of,” Murphy says. “There is the anxiety of hitting with two strikes, and then there is the anxiety of getting to two strikes.”

Murphy lives with knowledge that even though he led all National League second basemen in hits, doubles, runs and stolen bases, the only thing many in the front office look at is his .319 on-base percentage. it stands as evidence that he isn’t totally on board with the team’s philosophy.

“It’s really hard to do. It’s hard. It is hard.”

USATSI daniel murphy

“I struggle with thinking that a walk is a win,” Murphy concedes. “I struggle with that, because I look at a walk as, I didn’t get a hit. And so what I’m trying to really, really learn is that 0-for-2 with two walks, that is a win. But I don’t always view it like that.”

Murphy tells Martino that he understands the philosophy and even agrees with it, but executing it is not as easy as it appears.

“If I don’t walk, I have to get two hits a night,” Murphy says. “Do you know how hard that is to do at this level? It’s terrible. You’re talking about 2-for-5, 2-for-4. They’re not just passing out knocks out there. Just be disciplined to take that walk, it gets me on base that much more.”

That, at least, is what Murphy’s brain is telling him to do, Martino underscores. But the head is one thing, and the churning, anxious gut is another.

“I want to buy in,” he says. “I don’t want to swing at marginal pitches… It’s just hard.”

Nice job by Andy Martino…

I feel bad for Murphy… Fifteen or twenty years ago, the numbers Murphy posted in 2013 would have been talked about all Winter long. Kids would have been hoarding his baseball cards. He would have been appreciated a heck of a lot more and any talk of trading him would have been scoffed at or met with ridicule. But that was another era. Baseball is and will continue to be an evolving game. Nobody knows this better than Daniel Murphy. I hope he has a great year in 2014…

(Photos: Brad Barr, USATSI)

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Keith Law: Mets Have 6th Best Farm System Tue, 28 Jan 2014 20:46:37 +0000 wheeler harvey

Keith Law of ESPN (Insider Only) ranked the Houston Astros as having the top minor league system in baseball. But the Mets actually received a solid ranking as well coming in as the sixth best system.

6. New York Mets 

The turnaround in this system is remarkable, especially when you consider they have not had a top-10 pick since they took Matt Harvey in 2010, and it puts the Mets in excellent shape relative to the other four teams in their division.

The decisions to trade R.A. Dickey and Marlon Byrd look even better in hindsight. The Mets also have one of the minors’ best collections of pitchers who throw strikes but aren’t strictly finesse guys.

…It’s great to see us getting some props for a change…

I was kind of wondering how Law and other minor league experts would view the Mets system after reading some other sites projecting us as a middle of the pack system.

Given what we’ve pumped out to the majors in the last 18 months I found that hard to believe, especially with some Top 100 Prospects still on the way.

Incidentally, NL East rivals came in at Phillies 14th, Nationals 18th, Marlins 19th and Braves 22nd.

If you still can’t see that this organization is getting better, you need new glasses.

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MLB Expanded Replay: Why Now? Fri, 15 Nov 2013 13:00:24 +0000 On Thursday, MLB owners unanimously voted on funding that would expand instant replay in baseball. There are still plenty of details that need to be worked out before the final votes by the owners are cast, but pending player’s union approval, it looks like this is going to be a go. This is something that has been in the works since the summer.

bud selig 5

Touching on it briefly, it looks as if managers will be allowed two challenges a game. If they are unsuccessful with their first challenge they will lose the second one. It is still unclear what can be challenged, but it won’t just be homeruns anymore. The one thing that was mentioned was that balls and strikes will not be challengeable. It appears as though everything else will be. It is also unclear if umpires have the ability themselves to review a homerun or if that will be left up to the manager.

One thing about baseball that I have always loved and admired is the human element. Maybe I am in the minority. I understand how frustrating it can be when a call doesn’t go your way, but I also know the feeling when you get away with one. Implementing this replay system in a way is phasing this out. I am not saying that I don’t agree with it, I am just saying that one of the things that I along with many love about the game is being handed over to the replay booth.

A complaint for years has been how long games take to be played. With pitching changes, hitter’s pre-at bat rituals, time between pitches, etc… adding the possibility of four challenges isn’t going to speed things up any. I am not complaining about the duration of a game because I could spend all day everyday at a ballpark, I am just stating the facts.

It is still early in this process and I know that the people involved are going to put in a ton of time to iron out the details to be sure the right system is in place, but it leaves me with an on the fence feeling about how much it actually will change the game. The technology is there to make this work but where does it stop? Homeruns have been reviewable since the end of 2008. Soon it could be just plays at the plate. Or maybe fair or foul balls. Perhaps every out could be reviewed. Are the managers the only ones to call for a replay? Are players going to stall and “argue” to give the manager enough time for someone within the organization to review the play then relay the message to the dugout to have it reviewed? There are a million questions about this but the one I am stuck on is, Why now?

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Wheeler’s Innings Clock Is Winding Down Tue, 03 Sep 2013 22:11:41 +0000 zack wheeler 2

Zack Wheeler’s season should consist of about 28 more innings, an insider told ESPN New York, and whether that gets Wheeler through the remainder of the season remains to be seen.

Adam Rubin adds that if the Mets operated with a five-man rotation, Wheeler’s turn would come up five times in September — meaning he would need to average less than six innings per outing to complete the season. Being more successful and going deeper into games would shut him down early.

Wheeler is currently at 151.2 innings after tossing 149 innings last season.

Also, Terry Collins said the Mets will not be “extra conservative” with Wheeler in light of what happened to Harvey, saying that basically when your elbow goes, it goes.

“I don’t care what you do,” he said. “You can’t stop it.”


What’s the word you would use to describe Collin’s philosophy on protecting young pitchers?

Original Post 9/1

I missed most of last night’s 7-3 win over the Washington Nationals, but managed to catch Zack Wheeler spin some magic in the rebroadcast.


The kid is now 5-0 on the road for the Mets, with a 2.19 ERA and .217 BAA in 49.1 innings spanning eight starts.

He’s been pretty remarkable for the Mets and down-right nasty in his last five starts. In 32.1 innings, the young righty has allowed just six walks while striking out 31. Overall, Wheeler is 7-3 with a 3.34 ERA in his rookie season.

Manager Terry Collins saw fit to give the youngster yet another nice pat on the back after the game and told him to stop crying about how tired he is after every start.

“He’s the one who came in after the sixth inning and said, ‘I want to go back out there.’ And I said, ‘Then stop telling everybody you’re tired and go back out there.”

He toned down his criticism and offered some praise, perhaps just realizing all the voice recorders were turned on…

“But that shows you that no matter what he says, this guy competes. Don’t ever let his personality let you think he doesn’t compete on that mound. This guy was angry with the inning before and wanted to go back out there and finish it off.”

This is the second time in a month, that Collins has felt the need to share his unique motivational practices regarding Wheeler with the media.

We at MMO appreciate it as we could all use a good chuckle now and then.

On a more serious note, our young phenom has now thrown 151.1 innings combined this season and is about 2-3 starts away from being shutdown for the season. Good.

What I wanted to see most of all from Wheeler after his promotion, was two things; throw strikes and look like you belong…


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Vic Black Should Report To Mets By Sept. 1 And Bypass Vegas Thu, 29 Aug 2013 21:49:45 +0000 Minor League Baseball: AA-All Star Game

Update 8/29, 5:45 PM by Satish Ram

The Mets announced earlier on Twitter that Victor Black was the PTBNL in the deal that saw the Mets send Marlon Byrd, John  Buck, and cash to the Pirates. This was old news, however, as speculation ran rampant as soon as the trade was announced.

The new news, coming via Adam Rubin, is that the Mets are working with a technicality that allows Black to take 72 hours to report to his new team. This will allow him to report directly to the Mets on September 1st with the roster expansion and bypass the trouble of going to Vegas for a day.

So yes, it looks like Vic Black has gone through the process to get to the Mets and those anxious to see the return of the trade will be pleased very soon. Black should be an excellent addition to our bullpen that is currently missing Parnell and he could become an interim closer if he enjoys success.

Original Post

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, right-handed reliever Vic Black is the Player to be Named Later that will complete the trade that sent John Buck and Marlon Byrd to the Pirates for Dilson Herrera.

Black is currently on waivers and is expected to clear tomorrow, but the Pirates intend to send Black to the Mets at the end of the season.

Black reportedly is on waivers. If he goes unclaimed, the deal can be completed now. If he is claimed, he will need to be pulled back and be sent to the Mets after the season.

Black, 25, was the 49th overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Dallas Baptist University. John Sickels had the following to say about him last week:

Unlike many minor league closers, Black does not want for stuff: he has one of the best fastballs in the system, clocked as high as 101 MPH in the minors; he hit 98 during his major league trial and averaged 95. A supplemental first round pick in 2009 out of Dallas Baptist, he struggled with control problems, a substandard change-up, and persistent arm trouble early in his career and at one point looked like a bust.

He revived his career by converting to relief, posting an excellent 1.65 ERA with an 85/29 K/BB in 60 innings with 13 saves last year in Double-A, followed by consistent success this year. He’s had fewer problems throwing strikes and staying healthy with relief use, doesn’t have to worry about the change-up, and can just come in and blow people away for an inning or two with his fastball and a slider that can touch 90. ranked him as the sixth-best pitching prospect in the Pirates system.

Black is 5-3 with a 2.51 ERA and had 17 saves in 38 relief appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis this season.

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Prospect Spotlight: RHP Vic Black Thu, 29 Aug 2013 16:30:10 +0000 vic black tradeAccording to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mets and Pirates have agreed on Vic Black as the player to be named late in the trade that sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates. The Mets sent cash to Pittsburgh as well in exchange for Dilson Herrera,who we profiled yesterday, and Black, who will either join the team once he clears waivers tomorrow or after the season if he is claimed by another team.

Black, 25, is a right-handed relief pitcher currently pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis as their closer. Black was originally drafted by the New York Mets in the 41st round of the 2006 draft, but did not sign.

Three years later, the Pirates selected him 49th overall. He got his first taste as a closer last season with Altoona in the Eastern League, where he finished 38 games (including 13 saves), while posting a 1.65 ERA in 60 innings. Even more impressive were his 85 strikeouts (12.8 K/9). This season in 46.2 innings, he has a 2.51 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 17 saves.

Black is a highly-regarded prospect in the Pirates organization, ranked 16th by Jonathan Mayo of, 18th by Pirates Prospects, and 15th by John Sickels of Minor League Ball. He has an electric fastball that has been clocked at times over 100 miles per hour and a slider that can touch 90 on the gun.

Two top 15 prospects is quite a haul for one month of Byrd and Buck. Pirates GM Neal Huntington did say the PTBNL wasn’t a no-name prospect, but it’s a bit of a surprise to see a prospect of just about equal value as Herrera to be thrown in the deal as well. Nice work by the Mets front office.

Career Stats

What the experts say…

Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 6/7 | Slider: 4/5 | Control: 3/5 | Overall: 4/5

The Pirates knew Black had tremendous arm strength. That is, after all, why they drafted him out of Dallas Baptist in the first place. But the right-hander had trouble staying healthy at first, missing nearly all of his first full season and not getting a lot of mound time in 2011. Moved to the bullpen that year, Black really took off with the push to Double-A in 2012, where he struck out 12.75 per nine innings. His fastball can be plus, into the mid-90s with sink, and he combines it with a hard slider that could be a Major League average pitch. Black’s control, however, hasn’t been as solid. Though his walk rate did drop in 2012, he had trouble throwing strikes during his Arizona Fall League stint. If Black can find the strike zone with more consistency, he has the stuff to pitch out of the back end of the bullpen.

John Sickels:

Unlike many minor league closers, Black does not want for stuff: he has one of the best fastballs in the system, clocked as high as 101 MPH in the minors; he hit 98 during his major league trial and averaged 95. A supplemental first round pick in 2009 out of Dallas Baptist, he struggled with control problems, a substandard change-up, and persistent arm trouble early in his career and at one point looked like a bust.

He revived his career by converting to relief, posting an excellent 1.65 ERA with an 85/29 K/BB in 60 innings with 13 saves last year in Double-A, followed by consistent success this year. He’s had fewer problems throwing strikes and staying healthy with relief use, doesn’t have to worry about the change-up, and can just come in and blow people away for an inning or two with his fastball and a slider that can touch 90.

MLB Prospect Watch

Black has the velocity you simply can’t teach, consistently sitting in the upper 90′s with the ability to reach triple-digits.  That alone makes him an intriguing prospect.  Serving as a closer in Triple-A, Black struck out 12 batters per nine innings for the second straight year (having also done it in 2012 in Double-A) and lowered his walk rate to a career low.  Unfortunately, that career low is still 4.0 BB/9, which is the Achilles heel of Black’s game.

The past two years, Black has been extremely effective in each of the minor league’s highest two levels.  He’s already 25-years-old, so he’s ready for a test in the majors, and if the Pirates major league bullpen hadn’t been as good as it was all season, he likely would have already gotten it.

Vic Black, on himself in Q&A with Fangraphs in May:

On his two-pitch repertoire and velocity: “I feel I have two pretty good options. I can go fastball and I can go slider, and that shortens my thought process. As a short-inning reliever, I don’t want to start thinking about too many ways to get a guy out.

“In my last outing, against Buffalo, I was 97-99 [mph].

“The velocity is coming earlier this year. When you saw me in Portland last year, it was toward the end of the season and that’s when I was starting to throw that hard consistently. Throwing hard this early tells me my mechanics and timing are becoming more sound.”

Black could join the Mets’ bullpen this season if he clears waivers.

Follow me on Twitter @UpAlongFirst.

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Mets Minors: Cecchini Extends Hitting Streak To 14 Games Sat, 17 Aug 2013 18:19:53 +0000 gavin cecchiniAt just 19-years old, shortstop Gavin Cecchini is now beginning to deliver on some of the potential some that led the Mets to select him with their top pick (12th overall) in the 2012 First Year Play Draft.

Last night for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Cecchini went 1-for-4 with walk to extend his hitting streak to 14 straight games. During that span, the Louisiana native is batting .379/.403/.448 and overall for the season he’s at .289/.321/.344 with seven doubles, 12 runs scored and 10 RBI in 128 at-bats for the ‘Clones.

Jim Mancari, who covers the Cyclones for MMO, spoke to Cecchini after the game. ”I’m not really worried about the hit streak,” Cecchini said. “I’m just taking good swings, getting my pitch and helping the team win. That’s all the matters.”

An ankle injury knocked Cecchini out for a couple of weeks and also took a toll on his numbers, but that is now behind him and he’s playing as confidently and aggressively as we’ve seen him all season long.

Cecchini has teamed up with second baseman L.J. Mazzilli to give the Cyclones a potent combination in the middle of the diamond as the two of them excel both on defense and offense. Mazzilli has an .845 OPS over his last ten games, while Cecchini has an .880 OPS in that same span.

During a critical at-bat a couple of games ago, Cecchini came up big with an RBI-single and eventually scored the winning run.

“Whenever you have two strikes and runners in scoring position, you at least want to put the ball in play, and that’s what we did tonight,” Cecchini said. “We made them play, and we came out with a win.”

We spoke to Donnelly after the game who added, ”That was a heck of an at-bat…two strikes…if he (Cecchini) strikes out there, we’re in trouble,” the Cyclones’ manager said. “He hit the ball solid and drove in the tying run. That was a great at-bat by a young kid.”

Things are looking up for the youngster and there’s a good chance that he may skip past Savannah and begin the year at Advanced-A St. Lucie from what I’m hearing.

Metsmerized Is #1 In Minor League Coverage! Take it from Sandy the Seagull, Gavin Cecchini and Brandon Nimmo!


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Eighth Inning Rally Sparks Cyclones’ Win Thu, 15 Aug 2013 04:29:07 +0000 It was hockey jersey night at MCU Park in Coney Island Wednesday evening, and the Brooklyn Cyclones waited until well into the third period – also known as the bottom of the eighth inning – to wake up from a game-long drought and earn a 3-1 victory over the Hudson Valley Renegades.

The win moves the Cyclones to 27-26 and just one game behind the McNamara Division-leading Aberdeen Ironbirds, who defeated the Staten Island Yankees Wednesday.

With Jeff Wilpon in the house, the Cyclones got off to an extremely slow start offensively. Shortstop Gavin Cecchini beat out an infield single in the first inning, but the Cyclones did not have another hit until the bottom of the eighth.

Gavin Cecchini (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Gavin Cecchini (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Brooklyn pounded out a season-high 16 hits in Sunday’s win over the State College Spikes in the last game before the All-Star break, but the team managed just four hits in this one.

Cecchini’s single extended his hitting streak to 12 games – the longest hitting streak in the New York-Penn League. The Cyclones’ all-time record for a hitting streak is 17 games by Lucas Duda in 2007.

“I’m not really worried about the hit streak,” Cecchini said. “I’m just taking good swings, getting my pitch and helping the team win. That’s all the matters.”

Lefty Dario Alvarez took the hill for the Cyclones and was very effective over his six innings of work trying to avoid a third straight loss. However, the one unearned run he allowed in the top of the fourth inning looked liked it would hold up until the Cyclones rallied late.

In that inning, Renegades’ All-Star catcher Oscar Hernandez skied a pop-up right out in front of home plate. Several Cyclones converged, but a lack of communication forced third baseman Juan Gamboa into a dive.

The ball skimmed off Gamboa’s glove and trickled up the first-base line, allowing Hernandez to advance to second. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Renegades’ left fielder Granden Goetzman.

The Cyclones couldn’t muster any sort of offensive attack until the bottom of the eighth, when center fielder Patrick Biondi led off the frame with a bloop single to left. Second baseman Ismael Tijerina laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, but Renegades’ first baseman Ben Kline could not handle the throw and everybody was safe.

In an obvious bunt situation with Cecchini at the plate, Renegades’ pitcher Rick Teasley errantly threw a pick-off throw to first base, allowing both runners to advance. With two strikes on him, Cecchini lined a change-up to center field for the game-tying sacrifice fly.

“Whenever you have two strikes and runners in scoring position, you at least want to put the ball in play, and that’s what we did tonight,” Cecchini said. “We made them play, and we came out with a win.”

“That was a heck of an at-bat…two strikes…if he (Cecchini) strikes out there, we’re in trouble,” Cyclones’ manager Rich Donnelly said. “He hit the ball solid and drove in the tying run. That was a great at-bat by a young kid.”

After an intentional walk to first baseman Alex Sanchez and a single by right fielder James Roche loaded the bases, a Teasley wild pitch gave Brooklyn the lead. Designated hitter Matt Oberste plated the third run with an RBI single that caromed off the third base bag.

Righty Akeel Morris picked up the win for the Cyclones in relief. He’s now 3-0 on the year and has shown signs of dominance. He allowed no hits and only one walk in three scoreless innings, and he’s thrived all season in a long relief role.

“As long as I’m pitching good, that’s all I want to do,” Morris said. “One of the biggest things I’ve tried to do this year is to be more aggressive.”

“He’s (Morris) been pretty darn good all year,” Donnelly said. “He has two plus strikeout pitches. He has a 93-94 fastball, and he has a really good change-up. Sometimes that light bulb goes on and off they go. He has a chance to go…93-94 out here, in the big leagues that will work too. Ask Matt Harvey.”

The Cyclones now have 22 games left this season, and it’s gearing up to be a tight race to finish. The team’s hitting has been inconsistent all summer, but if Brooklyn can continue its string of solid pitching performances, the team will be in the mix the entire way down the stretch.

The Cyclones are back in action Thursday night, with Dawrin Frias getting the start in Hudson Valley at 7:05 p.m.

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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Umpires, Dodgers Take Down The Mets In Frustrating 4-2 Loss Tue, 13 Aug 2013 05:14:21 +0000 Capture

I don’t even want to write this up, honestly. The umpiring crew…or rather Chad Fairchild played a hand in really screwing the Mets over in this game, which was a tough loss to follow. Let’s start with the good — Wilmer Flores looked pretty damn good out there again. Flores scored in the second inning when John Buck and Omar Quintanilla strung together back-to-back RBI singles to drive home Flores and Ike Davis, respectively. That would be all the scoring the Mets could muster on the evening, but it wasn’t particularly their fault.

Mejia retired the first eight hitters without any problems and cruised through the first five without any real issues, keeping the game as 2-0. The bottom of the sixth and top of seventh innings spelt hell for the New York Mets — and I am a little disappointed that Terry Collins didn’t jump out to argue for his team, but arguing balls and strikes is a futile effort.

In the bottom of the sixth, Murphy struggled on consecutive plays, first bobbling a slow grounder to allow a runner on first and then mistiming a jump to deflect a ball off his glove into right field. Marlon Byrd didn’t field it correctly, either, and failed to pick up the force out on a surprised Carl Crawford. On the next play, a base hit towards Lagares left him ready to throw — but he went to third instead of home and the ball bounced off Flores, finally landing out of play and bringing home yet another run while advancing Adrian Gonzalez to third. He would later score on a Puig sacrifice fly, which capped off a horrendously unlucky inning for Jenrry Mejia. Mejia should have backed up Flores on the errant throw play, however, so I will admit that fault on his part. For those of you that didn’t watch, Jenrry Mejia was very, very good today — don’t let those numbers fool you. He has looked incredible so far as a starter with the Mets.

The top of the seventh saw the Mets load the bases with one out…and then the Umpires from Planet Hollywood struck. The 1B Ump, Jeff Kellogg, called an obvious check-swing as a strike, creating a 2-1 count instead of 3-0. Chad Fairchild finished up the screw-job by calling Lagares out via strikes on a pitch well outside the plate, which caused displeasure among…well, everyone but Dodgers fans. Murphy flew out to end the inning. Nick Punto homered off Carlos Torres later in the game to set up the 4-2 final score.

At least Matt Harvey is starting tomorrow…and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Flores’ sparkling diving play at third base to save a base hit. Eat your heart out, David Wright. :)

If anything else, the kids are alright…

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