Mets Merized Online » T.J. Rivera http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 15 Jan 2017 16:45:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.17 Where Does T.J. Rivera Fit In With The Mets? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/where-does-t-j-rivera-fit-in-with-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/where-does-t-j-rivera-fit-in-with-the-mets.html/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2016 12:00:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=226774 t-j-rivera

With the news that second baseman Neil Walker has accepted his $17.2 million dollar qualifying offer, the New York Mets now find themselves with incredible depth in their infield. The player who is most impacted by the return of Walker, is utility infielder T.J. Rivera.

Rivera did not disappoint in his time in New York last season, hitting to a .333/.345/.476 batting line with three homers and 16 RBI. He was as advertised, a pure contact hitter who can put the ball in play. Rivera displayed his ability to handle major league pitching just as he has always throughout ever level in the minors.

The 28-year-old Bronx native understands that the current situation is not the most conducive to himself at this point, possibly being the odd man out in a crowded Mets infield.

“I’ve thought about it a little bit, but I haven’t really gotten down to thinking about what’s going to happen in the future,” Rivera said. “I’m kind of enjoying the moment right now.”

“Obviously that’s what’s most important is next season. But I’m just going to work hard, do the things I’ve done every offseason so far, and that’s go to work, just be prepared for any moment next year.” (MLB.com)

Rivera also has expressed his willingness to try his hand in the outfield as well, where he has played just nine games in the minors in 2016. He has always been a player that’s willing to adapt and play wherever the team has needed him.

T.J. was without a doubt a bright spot for this team in the 33 games he played in 2016. But unless something changes this offseason, he will find himself back in Las Vegas once again next season. He is a solid hitter without a permanent position.

Barring any trades, the Mets find themselves with a mix and match infield that will include Walker, David Wright, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lucas Duda, Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and Rivera. The depth is uncanny.

Question marks surrounding Wright will likely open the door for more playing time for Reyes and Flores. Rivera will be best suited in Vegas as backup in case one of the others go down with injury.

It is hard not to wonder what Rivera could do with a full season of playing time in the big leagues. Hopefully he continues to keep hitting the way he always has for the 51s, and that at some point next season he’ll get another shot to prove he belongs in the majors.

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New York Mets Second Baseman T.J. Rivera? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/new-york-mets-second-baseman-t-j-rivera.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/new-york-mets-second-baseman-t-j-rivera.html/#comments Thu, 27 Oct 2016 12:36:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=225372 t-j-rivera

Bronx native T.J. Rivera visited his former high school today. Introduced by Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Rivera addressed the current students of Lehman High School, talking about his long and unlikely journey to the Major Leagues. While this is certainly a great story about the hometown kid making it to the major leagues, something Sandy Alderson said raised some eyebrows in the Mets news world.

When Alderson introduced T.J., he described him as, “The second baseman of the New York Mets.”

That wording is very important. Not “Mets infielder,” not “one of the second baseman,” THE second baseman.

There has been much talk about the Mets second base situation. Should they extend a $17.2 million qualifying offer to Neil Walker or sign him altogether? Should the Mets explore other external options to fill the void at second base, or is Wilmer Flores ready for that role?

Many options have been considered, but it does seem that T.J. Rivera is dust in the wind in these conversations. Which, in turn, is why Sandy’s introduction piqued my interest.

Rivera, 27, broke in to the Majors in 2016 impressively, hitting .333 with 3 home runs and 16 RBIs in 33 games. One of those home runs was a dramatic game-winning home run against Nationals closer Mark Melancon which kept the Mets in the hunt for the Wild Card. He played 26 games at second base where he had a flawless 1.000 fielding percentage.

T.J. Rivera will certainly be a huge part of the 2017 Mets. His .333 avg was no fluke, as since 2011 he has a stellar .324 career Minor League batting average. However, playing an important role is a lot different than being the starting second baseman.

After Rivera spoke to his alma-mater’s student athletes, he said to Kristie Ackert of the Daily News, “I have to approach the offseason the same way I did when I was working through the minors. I can’t take anything for granted. I have to work as hard as I did every other offseason and just hope I get that chance again.”

If the Mets don’t make any moves, Rivera, Wilmer Flores, and Jose Reyes would probably split time at second base (Reyes could play second when David Wright is at third base). However, the re-signing of Neil Walker or another acquisition would make the battle for second base all the more interesting.

“I think it will be a matter of a bunch of guys playing for an opportunity there this spring,” Rivera predicted. “I haven’t spoken to anybody about it or anything, but I am going into spring with that in my mind.”

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What’s On Second? Hopefully It’s T.J. Rivera http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/whats-on-second-hopefully-its-t-j-rivera.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/whats-on-second-hopefully-its-t-j-rivera.html/#comments Sun, 09 Oct 2016 12:00:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=224611 neil walker

As the New York Mets’ season came to an abrupt end Wednesday night, being shutout by another brilliant postseason pitching performance by San Francisco Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner, the team now has all offseason to contemplate the various moves and roster changes that need to be made for 2017 and beyond.

One such quandary is what to do with impending free agent second baseman Neil Walker, who had a career season with the Mets in 2016, tying a career high in home runs with 23, and setting new career highs in slugging (.476), OPS (.823), walk percentage (9.2%), and fWAR (3.8). Walker also recorded his second highest wRC+ (122), third best wOBA (.351), and was also more selective at the plate, recording his second lowest season of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone (30%).

Unfortunately, Walker wasn’t able to finish the year due to lingering back problems he had been dealing with over the last four seasons, and elected to have a microdisectomy operation to repair the herniation in his back in September. The prognosis of the surgery calls for three months of recovery, which would put Walker in line to be fully healthy for the start of spring training in 2017.

But the question remains as to whether it’s in the Mets best interest to allocate precious resources to keep Walker in the fold. Adam Rubin of ESPN reported on Thursday that the team is expected to extend a qualifying offer to Walker, and may also engage him in a multi-year deal.

The team could extend a qualifying offer to the 31-year-old switch hitter, which would amount to roughly $16.7 million, a $900K bump in pay from last season’s qualifying offer. Walker might accept it, especially coming off back surgery and unsure of whether there would be many multi-year offers on the table for him this offseason. He might find it in his best interest to take the one-year deal, prove he’s healthy and over the lingering herniated disk issue, and hit free agency in 2017-18.

At the same time, Walker is entering free agency in a weak class, where he is the best free agent second baseman on the open market, and one of the better infielders available along with Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Turner. He might find ample suitors due to the lack of talent available in free agency, making all of this talk a moot point.

If the Mets do extend a qualifying offer to Walker, and he rejects it, then the team would land a compensation draft pick in between the first and seconds rounds of next year’s MLB draft. However, I think it would be in the Mets best interest to gauge where Walker is in free agency, because I believe he is more of a luxury for this team than an undeniable need.

t-j-rivera

With the emergence of rookie T.J. Rivera in the second half of the season, the Mets may have their second baseman for 2017 at a discounted rate. Rivera, 27, is four years younger than Walker, hits for a high average, makes good contact (his 78% contact rate in 33 games would rate higher than that of Jackie Bradley Jr., Adam Jones, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Correa, and Kris Bryant if he qualified), and uses all parts of the field when at the plate.

Playing Rivera everyday at second would also save the Mets money in not having to offer Walker the qualifying offer or extending a multi-year contract to him. Instead, the Mets could use the money saved utilizing Rivera at second, and put the savings towards re-signing Yoenis Cespedes. Similar to how the Mets are saving a ton right now by using a starting rotation that’s comprised of Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz, Gsellman, and Lugo, who are all under team control, and Harvey and Wheeler still under arbitration. It would behoove the Mets to use cheaper alternatives that can produce while allocating the necessary monies to shore up other parts of the roster.

He’s also handled second base quite well in the majors, logging 170.2 innings without making an error. Rivera posted strong advanced metrics at second, posting a UZR of 0.6 in the limited action at second, with a 4.0 UZR/150 when scaled to a full season. And in his minor league career, Rivera has posted 2226 innings at second, posting a .976 fielding percentage and a 4.12 range factor, his second highest range factor behind only first base (8.41).

Rivera was a big part of the Mets success in claiming the first wild card spot, slashing .365/.386/.571 in 63 September  at-bats. Terry Collins rewarded Rivera with the start at second base in the Wild Card game, in part due to his success against Bumgarner in the August 18 game at AT&T Park, where Rivera went 2-for-3 against Bumgarner including a single to left and single to centerfield. His success throughout the years in the minors, playing as an undrafted free agent out of Troy University in 2011, and then following that success up in the majors was a big reason why Terry Collins felt comfortable going with Rivera at second in the do-or-die Wild Card game.

“This guy, he stuck it out, never made an excuse and went out when he had the chance and played great. He finally got his shot and then made the most of it and now he’s going to play in the stinkin’ wild-card game and, possibly, the World Series, all in one year.”

Of course, we all know the World Series proclamation didn’t come to fruition, but it is telling that Rivera has received such high praise in such a small amount of time with the Mets. And yes, Rivera was a product of misfortune for the Mets, losing the aforementioned Walker to the DL, and then jack-of-all-trades Wilmer Flores in September following a collision at home plate against the Atlanta Braves, injuring his wrist and leading to surgery to repair a hamate bone in his wrist. But Rivera ran with the chance he was given, and hasn’t looked back since.

Rivera had the only extra-base hit against Bumgarner Wednesday night, stroking a leadoff double to left on a 0-1 curveball. Rivera doesn’t seem fazed by the big moment, taking it all in stride and playing the only way he knows how, with passion and a dream in mind of reaching the major leagues, one he never stopped reaching for.

“People like the story because it gives people hope, maybe, that sense of hope like ‘I can do something I’ve always dreamed of as well, you know what I mean?’” Rivera said. “I guess maybe being undrafted and not being a top prospect and things of that nature, people see where I’m at. I can do what I really dreamed of doing. That was my goal. I hope I can inspire people to go after their dreams and their goals, that would be awesome.” (Newsday)

Hopefully Rivera’s inspired those in the Mets front office to give him the chance to man second base for 2017, which would just go to show that one can never give up on their dreams. Rivera overcame a lot of obstacles and was passed over time and time again from promotion, but kept working at his craft and doing what he does best, hitting. This is truly a story of local boy makes good.

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Collins: Flores Could Miss Rest Of Regular Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/collins-flores-could-miss-rest-of-regular-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/collins-flores-could-miss-rest-of-regular-season.html/#comments Sun, 25 Sep 2016 01:32:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222636 Wilmer - Flores

Terry Collins told reporters on Saturday that Wilmer Flores could miss the rest of the regular season due to his ailing wrist injury.

Flores told reporters that he plans on trying to take swings on Sunday and will try to see how he feels after that, but he remains worried about the bone bruise in his wrist.

He received a second cortisone injection on Monday to try and alleviate the pain and irritation.

Previous Update – Sep 22

It has now been 12 days since Wilmer Flores hurt his right wrist in a home-plate collision against the Braves in Atlanta, but there is still no return in sight.

Flores remains unable to swing a bat despite a second cortisone shot on Monday. Manager Terry Collins said Flores will almost certainly remain out of the lineup tonight with the Mets facing a left-hander.

“I’m really concerned,” Collins said on Wednesday. “We pointed to tomorrow night’s game as a big game for him because it’s a lefty and he just kills lefties. He won’t be a part of it, I can tell you right now, the way he is today. I’m really concerned about it. I’m really worried about it.”

“Wilmer Flores is our dynamic guy from the right side. And without him, you’re going into face some of those relievers late in the game. He can make a big difference, and without him, it’s a little different.”

The level of concern is DEFCON 4, Collins said to reporters.

Original Report – Sep 11 

After Wilmer Flores ripped a two-out double in the top of the eighth with the score tied at 3, the slow-footed Flores remained in the game much to the consternation of everyone on Twitter and even Gary, Keith and Ron in the booth.

As fate would have it, when pinch hitter T.J. Rivera followed with a single, Flores was thrown out at the plate in a violent collision, sliding head first right into a brick wall named A.J. Pierzynski.

Flores laid on the ground dazed and eventually left the game with a neck injury. X-rays taken at Turner Field were negative, but Flores said he felt dizzy and was very sore.

“I feel a lot of pain right now. If you watch the play, home plate was open. I saw it open and my first thought was a head first slide, avoid the tag.”

“When I was sliding, he got the ball and he ran right into me. It’s one of those plays where I really want to score, and I tried to do too much and that’s why I got hurt.”

The Mets can ill afford to lose Flores, who has evolved into one of the top hitters in the NL versus left-handed pitchers, batting .343 with a .697 slugging percentage, 11 homers, and a 1.074 OPS in 99 at-bats entering play on Saturday.

“I should have ran for him there,” Terry Collins said after the game, acknowledging he was distracted and should have pinch run for Flores.

“I was trying to get the pitching set up. My fault. … He’s going to have a stiff neck. But we certainly have enough guys. We could have ran for him, which we should have. I was trying to get the pitching set up and get a pinch hitter in and got distracted. It’s my fault.” (ESPN New York)

The Braves ended up scoring the decisive run and handing the Mets a painful 4-3 defeat in 10 innings,  while the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants both won.

If Flores does miss some time, hopefully it’s not more than a day or two. But as for Collins losing focus at such a critical junction in the game, well that was certainly a costly faux pas as the Mets fall out of the wild card spot and potentially lose a key weapon in their offensive attack against LHP.

(Photos: USA Today)

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Mets Minors: MMO All-Star Team Led by Rosario http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-minors-mmo-all-star-team-led-by-rosario.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-minors-mmo-all-star-team-led-by-rosario.html/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:00:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=223586 amed-rosario-ed-delany

We will be releasing the players we’ve chosen as part of a group voting for the Mets roster of the best 25 minor leaguers this season. These players are chosen strictly on their numbers and not on their prospect rankings. It’s going to be a four part series with the bench, starting rotation, and bullpen still to come. Here is who we’ve chosen for the best player at each position for their 2016 performances:

CatcherTomas Nido (St. Lucie Mets) – The only full season catcher to hit at least .320 and throw out at least 40% of basestealers. Won the FSL batting title, was a mid-season all-star as well as a end-of-the season all-star. Here is a full write-up by Teddy Klein on the catchers breakout season.

First BaseDominic Smith (Binghamton Mets) – Hit .302/.367/.457 with a career high 14 home runs and 91 RBI. He struck out only 74 times compared to 50 walks. Smith was even better after the arrival of Amed Rosario, hitting .342/.413/.544 from June 23rd and on. Smith is our All-Star first baseman for the second year in a row.

Second BaseT.J. Rivera (Las Vegas 51s)- Started only 14 games at 2B this year but we had to find a spot for the Pacific Coast League’s batting title winner. In Vegas, he hit .353/.93/.516 with career highs in doubles (31), homers (11) and RBI (85) while also getting a cup of coffee at the big league level.

ShortstopAmed Rosario (St. Lucie, B-Mets)- A couple of ways we could have went with this selection (Andres Gimenez and Gavin Cecchini had great seasons) but tough to go against the top prospect in the organization that had a breakout season offensively. Between St. Lucie and Binghamton he hit .324/.374/.459 with 24 doubles, 12 triples and five home runs. We recently named Rosario as our Position Player of the Year.

Third BaseDavid Thompson (Columbia, St. Lucie) – The Mets 4th rounder from 2015 was one of the best players in the South Atlantic League before getting promoted to St. Lucie. He struggled to hit consistently there, but continued to be a run producer, finishing with 95 RBI (most in Mets minors) on the season. His 34 doubles were second among Mets minor leaguers and he finished with a .280/.333/.444 slash line overall. Another tough choice here with Phillip Evans having a breakout season on the way to winning the Eastern League batting title.

Nimmo Brandon

Outfield:  Brandon Nimmo (Las Vegas 51s) – He played all three outfield spots this year for the 51s on the way to a great bounce back season in which he hit .352/.423/.541 and got his first taste off major league action. His .423 on-base led the PCL while his 11 home runs and 25 doubles were both career highs.

Outfield: Desmond Lindsay (GCL, Brooklyn) – The 19-year old five tool player had a great season once he has was able to get on the field after an injury delay. He hit .297/.418/.450 with a 20 BB/26 K ratio in 32 games with the Brooklyn Cyclones. On August 2nd, he drove in seven runs and finished a triple short of the cycle in what is his best pro game to date.

Outfield: Travis Taijeron (Las Vegas 51s) – The 51s power hitting right fielder led the PCL with 42 doubles while tying for the Mets minor league lead with 19 homers. He hit .275/.372/.512 and finished fourth in the PCL with 88 runs batted in. Taijeron makes our end-of-year All-Star team for the second straight season.

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MMO Players Of The Week: Who Else But Rivera and Thor! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-players-of-the-week-who-else-but-rivera-and-thor.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mmo-players-of-the-week-who-else-but-rivera-and-thor.html/#comments Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:13:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=223290 MMO PLAYER OF THE WEEK

With just under two weeks left in the 2016 regular season, the New York Mets are making their final push to position themselves as the top Wild Card seed, giving them home field advantage for the one-game playoff.

After a sweep over the weekend of the Minnesota Twins, and the San Francisco Giants splitting their four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets have a one-game lead over the Giants for the first wild card spot. The Mets continue to face a light schedule to end their season, facing the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Miami Marlins.

The Mets went 4-2 for the week of September 12-18 against the Washington Nationals and the Twins, but faced grim news over the weekend about one of their aces, Jacob deGrom. He was slated to return and start the final game of the Twins series on Sunday, but had to be shut down for the rest of the season due to an injury in the ulnar nerve in his right elbow. DeGrom didn’t complain of any troubles in his Friday bullpen session, however, he did feel pain when he was shagging fly balls in the outfield soon after. He’s been out since September 1 and was looked upon to give the Mets a dynamic one-two punch along with Noah Syndergaard, just in time for the playoffs. He will need surgery and the recovery time is expected to be three months.

The team is also waiting on the return of LHP Steven Matz, who hasn’t pitched since August 14, and has been on the disabled list with a left shoulder impingement since August 22. The Mets are hoping for his return later this week, but will be monitoring his workload.

The Mets will continue to rely on their rookie pitchers along with Noah Syndergaard and the ageless Bartolo Colon to help guide them to a potential October 5 date at Citi Field with the Giants for the Wild Card.

As always, here are your MMO Players of the Week for September 12-18.

t-j-rivera

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: T.J. RIVERA

T.J. Rivera earns MMO’s Player of the Week after going 9-for-20 (.450) with four runs batted in, three runs scored, two homers, one double, and one walk.

In his brief time with the big club, Rivera has displayed why he’s considered a professional hitter in the minors, hitting to all fields and striking out a low 10.9% of the time thus far. Rivera has put together some terrific at-bats as well, and had one of his breakout games last Tuesday against the Nationals. Rivera tied the game up at one in the third inning, singling to left on a 0-1 slider that scored Asdrubal Cabrera. He added another RBI in the top of the fifth, hitting a sac-fly to center field, allowing Curtis Granderson to score and give the Mets a 3-1 lead.

The Nationals tied the game up at three in the bottom of the ninth against Jeurys Familia and an error by Jose Reyes at third, sending the game into extras. After Jay Bruce grounded out, it was the Bronx product’s turn at the plate. Rivera smacked an 0-2 cutter off closer Mark Melancon into left field for a go-ahead homer, his first major league homer run. It was only the third home run given up by Melancon between the Pirates and Nationals this season.

Rivera was not known for his power while in the minors, only swatting 35 home runs in 625 career minor league games. His career high is 11, which he accomplished this season while playing for Triple A Las Vegas.

Rivera also had a huge weekend series against the Twins, including six hits, two for extra bases. Rivera hit his second career homer in Sunday’s 3-2 win in the third on a seven pitch at-bat against Kyle Gibson, his first at Citi Field.

Rivera has given the Mets a taste of what he can offer going forward, and should be afforded a chance in spring for the full-time second base job, unless the Mets decide to bring back Neil Walker on an extension or they offer and he accepts the qualifying offer in the off-season. At the very least, Rivera should be given an opportunity for the utility infielder role, similar to how Wilmer Flores was intended to be used this season.

noah syndergaard

PITCHER OF THE WEEK: NOAH SYNDERGAARD

Noah Syndergaard takes home MMO’s Pitcher of the Week, after tossing another gem against the Nationals last Tuesday, in the Mets 4-3 win in 10 innings.

The Mets needed a win after dropping the first game of the Nationals’ series on Monday night, with the Giants ahead in the wild card standings by a game and a half, and the Mets only a half game ahead of the Cardinals. Syndergaard was tasked with shutting down the Nats’ lineup, and he produced. Thor tossed seven innings of one run ball, giving up four hits, one walk, and striking out 10, his fifth multi-strikeout game of the season, and first since his June 15 start against the Pittsburgh Pirates at home.

Syndergaard’s only blemish came in the bottom of the second, when he walked Bryce Harper to start the inning. Harper stole second (Syndergaard’s 46th stolen base allowed) and later scored on Wilson Ramos‘ 23rd double of the season, giving the Nationals an early 1-0 lead. But Syndergaard settled down and worked out of early trouble in the fifth, giving up a lead-off double to Ryan Zimmerman. Syndergaard would then proceed to strikeout the side in order, fanning Danny Espinosa, Stephen Drew, and Trea Turner on 14 pitches to get out of the inning.

Syndergaard has been sensational in his sophomore season with the Mets, with a record of 13-8 with a 2.43 ERA, currently third best in the majors behind only the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester. He’s logged a career high 174 innings to date, with 205 strikeouts to 40 walks.

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Replace-Mets Keep On Winning, Capture Top Wild Card Spot http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/replace-mets-keep-on-winning-capture-top-wild-card-spot.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/replace-mets-keep-on-winning-capture-top-wild-card-spot.html/#comments Mon, 19 Sep 2016 10:00:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=223260 jerry-blevins-mets-win

Terry Collins‘ dubious decision to rest his veterans and go with his Replace-Mets in the heat of a pennant chase paid some dividends as the New York Mets completed a three-game sweep over the Minnesota Twins with a 3-2 win at Citi Field on Sunday.

New York now sits in the Wild Card driver’s seat with a one game lead over the not so gigantic San Francisco Giants.

Rookie right-hander Gabriel Ynoa, filling in for a grim Jacob deGrom, struck out eight in 4 2/3 solid innings of one run, one hit ball in his first major league start.

The Mets’ roughed up pitching rotation was dealt another blow on Friday with the news that deGrom will miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury.

But, the resilient crew from Queens, who are also without the services of the ailing Steven Matz, keeps beating the odds and pulling rabbits out of their caps. It’s pretty amazing when you stop and think about it, and it has been one of the best storylines of pretty remarkable season.

Michael Conforto recovered from Saturday’s bases loaded whiff with a first inning two-run single with the bases juiced to give the Mets a lead they never relinquished.  Conforto had himself a 2-for-4 day while hitting in the cleanup spot, which will hopefully boost the confidence he’s been lacking.

It was another head-scratcher by Terry Collins that paid off handsomely for the Mets. It’s been one of many such “brilliantly quirky moves” as pointed out by Joe D. on Friday.

After breezing through the order in the top of the first, Ynoa ran into a bases loaded debacle in the second, leaving the mound in better shape than counterpart Kyle Gibson, surrendering only one run on a Ryan Murphy sac fly.

Collins made what seemed like another of his questionable moves when he replaced Ynoa in the fourth after giving up a two out single to Brian Dozier.  After Josh Edgin gave up a bloop hit he was given the hook for Erik Goeddel who then loaded the bases with a walk.

I could feel the fans disdain for Collins through my television screen, but Goedell got Kennys Vargas swinging to end the inning, and another episode of manager knows best prevailed.

t-j-rivera

Mets Bronx Bomber T.J. Rivera then continued his torrid plate appearances with a solo shot in the third for an insurance run that meant something when Kennys Vargas cut the lead to 3-2 with a home run off Fernando Salas in the top of the eighth.

Jerry Blevins gave Jeurys Familia some much-needed rest, recording the final four outs, including a game ending strikeout in the dirt to the dominant left-hand hitting Brian Dozier, who came to the plate with two out in the ninth. The crowd went wild and so did I.

Both Rivera and Conforto stepped up big while filling the cleats of Jose Reyes and the red hot Curtis Granderson, collecting two big hits each and providing the type of offense that will be needed by the Mets down the stretch.

Their remaining schedule on paper predicts a favorable outcome, but this won’t be a walk in the park as Mets face the pesky Atlanta Braves, who have given them all sorts of problems. However, the Mets are one of the hottest teams in the NL, winning 11 of their last 14 and they are 20-7 over their last 27 games. That’s a lot of momentum.

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Good Fundies Episode 21: In Our Wildest Dreams http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/good-fundies-episode-21-in-our-wildest-dreams.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/good-fundies-episode-21-in-our-wildest-dreams.html/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2016 11:00:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=223037 cespedes

With snot-nosed punk kids going back to school, Brian and Roger figured out which Met was probably picked on the most in their formative years. Then they talked about if Yoenis Cespedes is, honestly, the most valuable player in baseball, before wondering if T.J. Rivera is going to be good before going around the horn to give the Mets the best offense possible.

Then they looked back at their 2nd half predictions from the All-Star Break to see how smart they really are. Roger and Brian both gave out awards and felt bad for Wally Backman before deciding if they want Terry Collins’ job in the first place.

It’s a must-listen to hear Brian give James Loney a round of applause and to find out if Roger can spell Doug Mientkiewicz correctly without cheating.

 

iTunes Link  -  Stitcher Link  -  Twitter Link

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T.J. Rivera: Hometown Hero Saves Day http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/t-j-rivera-hometown-hero-saves-day.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/t-j-rivera-hometown-hero-saves-day.html/#comments Wed, 14 Sep 2016 15:00:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222872 T.j. Rivera

Things looked grim, the Mets had just blown a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning in Washington. It just seemed like one of those games that the team would eventually lose. T.J. Rivera though would have none of that.

The bronx born Rivera would step up to the plate in the top of the 10th with nobody on base and drilled a homer over the left-field wall of Nationals park. The home run would be the difference maker and propel the Mets from sudden doom to a 4-3 victory. Manager, Terry Collins was looking for a spark Tuesday night and he found it with Rivera.

“Somebody has got to surprise you,” Collins said. “Somebody you don’t expect has got to come through, and tonight it was T.J.” (NY Post)

The home run was special in many ways as it not just gave the Mets a huge victory but was also the first of Rivera’s major league career. With the way he acted after putting the team back on top after a horrifying ninth, you would have never guessed it was his first.

“Did I look like I’d done it before?” Rivera said. “That was good. I was trying to keep my cool.”

The 27 year-old who the Mets signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011 has excelled within the organization. He has finally gotten the opportunity he deserves and is showing he belongs in the majors.

In a small sample size of just 45 at-bats he has hit to a .333/.319/.444 slash line with the one homer and six RBI. He has proven his ability to hit big league pitching and is slowly working himself into the conversation to not just stick on this team for the current season but for the 2017 campaign as well.

The win was big in many ways as it helped the Mets to keep pace with St. Louis who defeated the Cubs by a score of 4-2 Tuesday night. The Mets though did pick up a game on San Francisco who fell to San Diego by a score of 6-4. They now only trail the Giants by a half game for the top Wild Card spot.

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Familia Falters, But Mets Stand Their Ground In Wild Card Hunt http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/familia-falters-but-mets-stand-their-ground-in-wild-card-hunt.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/familia-falters-but-mets-stand-their-ground-in-wild-card-hunt.html/#comments Wed, 14 Sep 2016 10:18:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222867 jeurys familia

Daniel Murphy started a ninth inning rally for the Nationals, but destiny was on the barrel of rookie T.J. Rivera’s bat, as he launched a tie breaking solo shot in the top of the 10th to keep the Mets in sole possession of the second wild card spot.

The native New Yorker accounted for three of the Mets four runs and since being summoned from Sin City, the Pacific Coast League Batting Champion is hitting a team high .333.

Noah Syndergaard, sporting an impressive 1.06 in his last five starts, got robbed of his 14th win when Jeurys Familia unraveled in the bottom of the ninth.  Murphy, the bane of Terry Collins’ ball club, beat out a sharp single to Asdrubal Cabrera, scoring on a base hit by Anthony Rendon.

After Jose Reyes botched a throw on Bryce Harper’s ground ball, Familia failed to corral a Wilson Ramos comebacker, which brought Rendon home with the tying run.   Pinch hitter Clint Robinson then laced a hard liner to Rivera at second base, allowing the Mets to double up Ramos at first to send the game into overtime.

In the top of the 10th, Fernando Salas recorded the first two outs before surrendering a bloop single to Jayson Werth, forcing Collins to make an emergency call to the bullpen. Jerry Blevins, facing Daniel Murphy, ran the count to 3-2, then fittingly, struck him out on a wicked breaking pitch.

It’s a shame that Syndergaard didn’t secure the well-deserved victory after seven solid innings of one-run four-hit ball.  But his 10 strikeouts brought him to 205 for the season, making him the fifth Mets pitcher to surpass 200 by the age of 24 or younger.  Not too bad of a consolation prize to become a member of a club that includes Jon Matlack, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden and Tom “Terrific” Seaver.

The Mets have won eight of their last 10 and are 17-6 over their last 23 games. All in all, the Mets seized a much needed win (they’re all much needed wins now, right?) and stood their ground in the wild card standings despite a St. Louis Cardinals victory.

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MMO Players Of The Week: Thor and Cespedes Power Through http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mmo-players-of-the-week-thor-and-cespedes-power-through.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mmo-players-of-the-week-thor-and-cespedes-power-through.html/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:42:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=221148 MMO PLAYER OF THE WEEK

If the New York Mets would ever be compared to Superman, then the Arizona Diamondbacks certainly are their kryptonite. The Amazins’ were swept at home in the second week of August against the Diamondbacks, and then lost three out of four against the D-Backs last week in Arizona. Their only win was the result of a solid 5.2 innings pitched by Noah Syndergaard, picking up his 10th win on the season, giving up four runs (two earned), on seven hits and eight strikeouts. Syndergaard also contributed at the plate, belting a 3-2 fastball off Braden Shipley to right-center field to give the Mets a 3-1 lead in the third.

The Mets fared better by the Bay, taking two out of three from the San Francisco Giants over the weekend. The Mets welcomed back two of their regulars into the starting lineup Friday, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Both Cabrera and Cespedes went 1-for-4 in their returns Friday, however, Cespedes would make his presence felt in the two ensuing weekend games against the Giants.

Despite the Mets going 3-4 on their road trip, they’re still only 4.5 games back for the second Wild Card, and are gearing up to play a three-game set against the current second Wild Card leader in the St. Louis Cardinals starting Tuesday night. Jon Niese is set to toe the rubber in the opening game, looking to rebound after making the start last Wednesday against the D-Backs, pitching into the fifth while giving up four earned runs, walking two, while striking out six.

The Mets will be without second baseman Neil Walker until Friday, as he went on paternity leave to be with his Niki, as she’s set to give birth to their first child. Bronx native T.J. Rivera was recalled from Triple A Las Vegas to fill in while Walker is away from the team. Rivera hit extremely well while with the Mets for nine games, going 11-for-31 (.355), while manning second and third base.

And finally, Steven Matz was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to August 15, with a mild shoulder strain and rotator cuff inflammation.  The good news is there seems to be no structural damage to his left shoulder. In his absence, the Mets have called up RHP Robert Gsellman to take his spot. Gsellman, 23, will be working out of the bullpen initially, even though he was a starter in the minors. In 20 starts this season, Gsellman’s gone 4-9 with a 3.99 E.R.A. in 20 starts. He had 88 strikeouts to 31 walks in 115 innings pitched between Double A and Triple A.

As always, here are your MMO Players of the Week for August 15 to 21.

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OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: YOENIS CESPEDES

Even though Yoenis Cespedes returned to the lineup on Friday, playing in only three of the seven games played last week, he earns MMO’s Player of the Week. Cespedes returned to action on Friday, after being placed on the disabled list on August 3 for a strained right quad. He suffered the strain on July 8 against the Washington Nationals, but continued to play through it, instead of going on the disabled list initially.

During the weekend series at the Giants, Cespedes went 5-for-13, with three homers, five R.B.I., and one double. Cespedes had a monster day on Saturday, going 3-for-5 with two homers and a double, helping the Mets secure the 9-5 win. Cespedes got the Mets on the board early in the top of the first, where he smashed a 3-2 fastball off of Matt Moore for an R.B.I. double down the third-base line, his 19th double of the year. Later in the third, Cespedes belted a 2-1 fastball to deep left-center, traveling an estimated 457 feet according to Statcast.

But Cespedes was not done. In the seventh inning, facing RHP Jake Peavy, Cespedes had yet another majestic moon-shot, this time to left, giving the Mets an 8-2 lead.

Then in Sunday’s 2-0 victory to give the Mets the series, Cespedes strode to the plate in the top of the seventh, after Curtis Granderson led off with a double, the Mets first hit of the game against Giants starter Jeff Samardzija. With the game still scoreless, as Syndergaard was matching zeroes with Samardzija all afternoon, Cespedes smacked a 1-0 splitter deep down the left field line to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. His golf game seemed to come in handy Sunday, as he reached low to belt his 25th homer of the season, and help put the Mets back at .500 on the season, at 62-62.

On the season, Cespedes is hitting .293/.362/.571 with 25 homers and 64 R.B.I. As of Monday night, Cespedes ranks 10th in baseball with a .933 OPS.

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PITCHER OF THE WEEK: NOAH SYNDERGAARD

Noah Syndergaard takes home MMO’s Pitcher of the Week, after earning two of the three Mets’ wins last week. Thor took on the Diamondbacks last Tuesday, and held them to four runs (two earned), on seven hits and eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings. He also flashed his Asgardian power once again, connecting on a 3-2 fastball from D-Backs starter Braden Shipley for his third home run of the season. The fifth inning shot went 415 feet according to Statcast, and ties a Mets franchise record for home runs by pitchers with three. Walt Terrell hit three in 1983, and Tom Seaver also reached that mark in 1972. By the way, can Syndergaard get some points for styling his home run swing? What a beautiful follow through he had on that swing, including holding his left hand out while there was a slight skip in his step at the dish. On the season, Syndergaard’s batting .133/.235/.378, with three homers, six R.B.I., and six walks.

Syndergaard followed up that performance with a stellar outing on Sunday, shutting down the Giants in an eight-inning, two-hit masterpiece. Syndergaard had an efficient 98 pitches through eight innings, 66 of them for strikes. Thor walked two on the day, and struck out six, and lowered his E.R.A. from 2.76 to 2.61, good for 4th in baseball.

Sunday was the third time this season that Syndergaard has gone at least eight innings, and it was the first time he completed more than six innings since his July 3 start against the Chicago Cubs.

“The past month and a half, I felt like today was the first day I went out there and actually relaxed and had fun out there,” Syndergaard said. “I just kept things simple. The last month and half, I’ve been trying to think too far ahead in advance.”

On the year, Syndergaard has a record of 11-7 with a 2.61 E.R.A. He has 177 strikeouts in 148 innings pitched, along with a 1.16 WHIP.

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Brandon Nimmo Named PCL Player of the Week http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/brandon-nimmo-named-pcl-player-of-the-week.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/brandon-nimmo-named-pcl-player-of-the-week.html/#comments Mon, 22 Aug 2016 19:24:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=221129 Brandon-Nimmo

Las Vegas 51s outfielder Brandon Nimmo was named the Pacific Coast League’s Player of the Week for the week ending August 21, 2016.

Over the past week, the 23 year old Nimmo batted .432 (14-for-31) with nine runs, three doubles, one triple, two homers, seven RBI, five walks, and one stolen base.

This is Nimmo’s first full season in Triple-A, and he has a .345/.420/.539 batting line with 55 runs, 21 doubles, eight triples, nine homers, and 53 RBI in 330 at-bats for Las Vegas.

Nimmo’s play in Las Vegas this season, has earned him a 20 game cup of coffee with the big-league team where he hit .237/.297/.288 with one homer, and five RBI.

Nimmo joins fellow Mets prospects T.J. Rivera (May 16- 22 and August 1- 7) and Gavin Cecchini (June 13-19) as PCL Player of the Week winners this season.  Rafael Montero was also honored as Pitcher of the Week back in May.

Binghamton Mets infielder Phillip Evans was named the Eastern League’s Player of the Week, read more at MetsMinors.net.

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Niese Fizzles Out In D’Backs Win, Draws Praise From Collins http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/niese-fizzles-out-in-desert-in-dbacks-win-draws-praise-from-collins.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/niese-fizzles-out-in-desert-in-dbacks-win-draws-praise-from-collins.html/#comments Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:55:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220807 jon niese 2

In his first start with his former team, Jon Niese appeared to be the antidote missing from the Mets pitching rotation, until the 4th inning reared it’s ugly head.

Sailing through the first three innings, Niese stifled the D’backs with cutters in the 80’s until Rickie Weeks, Jr. and Yasmany Tomas took him back-to-back deep, resulting in a 13-5 crushing defeat in the desert.

In the bottom of the 5th, opposing pitcher, Zack Godley, who was godlike, (7.1 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs) slapped a single up the middle, ending Niese’s unfortunate outing with 4 runs on 4 hits in 4.2 innings.

So what does that mean for Niese’s future in the rotation? It doesn’t appear to be in any jeopardy.

“I told him, even on the mound, for a guy who hadn’t pitched in six weeks, I thought he threw the ball great,” manager Terry Collins said after the game. “I was very happy with the way he pitched.”

With the day off on Monday, it’s likely they’ll just skip the fifth starter’s spot unless they opt to give one of the young arms extra rest. ”We don’t make those decisions this far in advance,” Collins continued. “We’ve got to wait to see what happens in the next couple of days.”

Looking for some heat in relief after an early shower for Niese, Collins brought in Erik Goeddel, who had trouble with the curve, and more issues finding the plate.  After a series of balls landed in the dirt, far from d’Arnaud’s glove, Paul Goldschmidt drew a walk, then Weeks unloaded his second HR, a three run blast, to extend Arizona’s lead 6-1.

Seth Lugo held the Diamondback’s in check for an inning and a third, then 3 additional runs rained on rookie Gabriel Ynoa in the bottom of the 7th.

Josh Edgin was brought in to stop the bleeding in the 8th, but there was no tourniquet tight enough to tame the Diamondback’s bats.  Jean Segura singled to center, Mitch Haniger and Goldschmidt both got free passes on four pitches, and Segura scored a run courtesy of a wild pitch.   Then Tomas cranked a 2-0 pitch to center for a 3 run HR, his second of the game, and just like that, Arizona had themselves a baker’s dozen.

The Mets, cramming for exams in the top of the 9th, tried to stage an improbable comeback against Dominic Leone, scoring 3 runs off of a Curtis Granderson solo shot, and a pitch hit 2 run HR by Rene Rivera.  With one out, a Ty Kelly double and Kelly Johnson single was titillating, but too little too late, as the door was slammed shut by Randall Delgago, who left them out to dry.

Another night of the same old same old with men in scoring position.  The Mets were 2-15, with 8 men LOB.  Their hunt for October still has some life, but with the Pirates and Cardinals pulling away from the pack, they’re making a tough case for fans to believe.

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Mets Hang On For 7-5 Win Over D’Backs http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-hang-on-for-7-5-win-over-dbacks.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-hang-on-for-7-5-win-over-dbacks.html/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 05:13:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220708 noah syndergaard 2

The New York Mets (60-59) defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks (49-70) by a score of 7-5 at Chase Field Tuesday night.

Pitching:

Noah Syndergaard was on the mound for the Mets tonight and he was on cruise control for most of the night. This was arguably the best Syndergaard has looked in quite some time but he ran into some trouble in the sixth due to some shoddy defense. All in all, Thor went 5.2 innings giving up two earned runs while walking two and striking out eight.

Syndergaard entered the sixth inning tonight with a huge lead and only having allowed one run. Jake Lamb reached first base on a throwing error by T.J. Rivera to kick off the inning.  After Yasmany Tomas struck out, Wellington Castillo singled on a line drive to center field to put runners on the corners with one out.

Mitch Haniger tripled, his first ever career hit, to score the lead runners and cut the score to 7-3.  After Syndergaard was able to get Chris Owings to pop out, Phil Gosselin reached first base on yet another fielding error by T.J. Rivera, which scored Mitch Haniger and cut the lead to 7-4.  Jean Segura then also reached base on yet another questionable throw and catch from T.J. Rivera and James Loney.  What a sloppy inning! That was it for Thor on the night.  Jerry Blevins luckily came in and cleaned up the mess, recording the final out.

Hansel Robles came on in the top of the seventh inning and he was shaky. With runners on first and second and two out, Terry Collins decided to go to Addison Reed to try to record the final out.  Mitch Haniger hurt the Mets again by smacking a line drive down the left-field line to cut the score to 7-5.

Addison Reed came back on in the top of the eighth and worked the Mets through a successful scoreless inning.

Jeurys Familia was able to shut the door in the ninth and record his 40th save of the year.

noah syndergaard hr

Offense: 

The Mets got things started in the top of the fifth inning tonight. T.J. Rivera kicked things off with a single to right field.  Alejandro De Aza followed with a double to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Rene Rivera then followed with a sacrifice fly to get the Mets on the board and tie the game 1-1.  Noah Syndergaard was next and dropped his hammer on the D-Backs by blasting his third home run of the year to right-center field to give the Mets the 3-1 lead.  The Mets weren’t done yet as Jose Reyes tripled to left fielder Mitch Haniger.  Curtis Granderson brought Reyes home on a sacrifice fly to make the score 4-1.

In the top of the sixth inning, Kelly Johnson lead-off the inning with his 8th home run of the season to make the score 5-1.  T.J. Rivera followed with a single and advanced on a throwing error by Michael Bourn.  Alejandro De Aza then doubled home Rivera and also took an extra base on a throwing error, this time by Yosmany Tomas to make the score 6-1.  After Rene Rivera and Noah Syndergaard struck out with the runner on third, Jose Reyes was able to pick up his teammates by singling home De Aza to make the score 7-4.

Notes:

Asdrubal Cabrera went 1-3 with a double and a run scored tonight on a rehab assignment for St. Lucie.

Yoenis Cespedes went 0-3 in left field tonight also on a rehab assignment for St. Lucie.

JZ Player of the game: Noah Syndergaard.  Although he ran into some trouble in the sixth inning, this was a much better effort and of course he crushed a two-run home run as well!

On Deck: 

The Mets will play the rubber game of a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field tomorrow night. The game has a start time of 9:40 PM.  Jonathon Niese (8-6, 5.20 ERA) looks to keep the Mets rolling against Zack Godley (3-2, 5.24 ERA).  This will be Niese’s first start this season for the Mets after Logan Verrett was removed from the rotation.

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Enough Of This Nonsense, Call Up Michael Conforto http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/enough-of-this-nonsense-call-up-michael-conforto.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/enough-of-this-nonsense-call-up-michael-conforto.html/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2016 17:00:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220668 michael conforto

There were a number of reasons why the Mets made the move for Jay Bruce. There was the obvious reason that Bruce was the major league RBI leader and he was hitting well with runners in scoring position. His addition was meant to address the team’s issues in those areas. The Mets also obtained Bruce as Yoenis Cespedes insurance, not just for this year with Cespedes’ quad, but also for next year in the event the Mets cannot re-sign him after he opts out. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the Mets acquired Bruce due to the struggles of Michael Conforto.

It’s at least a possibility that the Mets never make the trade for Bruce if Conforto was hitting like he was last year. Instead, Conforto was mired in a horrific slump for two months after a hot April, all but forcing the Mets to eventually demote him to Triple-A where he could rediscover his swing.

Conforto would start out hitting pretty well when he returned from his stint in AAA. In his first 12 games back, he hit .267/.371/.400 with four doubles and two RBI. He looked like he was back to his previous form, and not only was he hitting he ball the other way, but he was doing so with authority.

However, Conforto’s progress wouldn’t last long as manager Terry Collins stopped giving him regular playing time. He sat Conforto against lefties, and even sat him against tough righties like Justin Verlander and Jose Fernandez. Collins opted instead for journeyman Ty Kelly, who he believed gave the Mets a better chance to win. By the way, the Mets are 7-14 in games in which Kelly plays.

Predictably, the young Conforto gets lost on the bench and eventually starts pressing again during some rare starts and pinch-hitting appearances. He began to slump and found himself mired in a 2-for-20 slump. During his second stint with the Mets, Conforto started in only 13 out of 23 games.

Naturally, the Mets decided to send Conforto back to the the minors . . . again . . . so he could get more playing time. Apparently, this was a better solution than telling the manager the obvious – Play Conforto because he is a much better baseball player than Ty Kelly.

michael conforto

In fact, Conforto, even at his worst, has been a better hitter than the other options the Mets have. Even with Conforto struggling this year, consider this:

  • Michael Conforto – hitting .200/.298/.340 with four doubles, one homer, and three RBI in the 19 games he played after he spent time in AAA
  • Brandon Nimmo – hitting .237/.297/.288 with one homer and five RBI in 20 games with the Mets
  • Ty Kelly – hitting .186/.280/.256 with one homer and four RBI in 21 games with the Mets
  • T.J. Rivera – hitting .222/.211/.278 with a double and three RBI in six games (none in the outfield).

In relatively similar small sample sizes, Conforto has hit better than Nimmo, who had been called up in his stead when Conforto was first demoted. Furthermore, Conforto has hit better than Kelly and Rivera, who the Mets have on the major league roster over Conforto now.

Also, take into consideration the Mets have a real center field problem. The aforementioned Bruce is not suited to play center, leaving the Mets with the following two options:

  • Curtis Granderson – hitting .187/.265/.293 with two doubles, two homers, and two RBI in his last 20 games.
  • Alejandro De Aza – hitting .196/.339/.304 with two doubles, one homer, and three RBI in his last 20 games.

Essentially, it is only Conforto who is being punished for being in a slump. Remember that during an epic postgame rant following a 9-0 loss to the Padres on August 11th, Collins had this to say:

“Starting tomorrow we’re going to get after it. And those that don’t want to get after it, I’ll find some who do. Because in Las Vegas there is a whole clubhouse of guys that want to sit in this room. And that’s all I have to say.”

After that game, Conforto was the only position player sent down because apparently he was the only player in that clubhouse that needed to be taught a lesson.

The end result is the Mets are getting diminishing returns from Granderson as he is forced to play every day in center field. It is also resulting in the Mets playing De Aza, who is once again slumping at the plate, against righties and Kelly, who cannot hit major league pitching, against lefties.

Even with his struggles, Conforto was better than the numbers those three are putting up right now. Instead, the Mets would rather watch Conforto play everyday in AAA and tear the cover off the ball. Since his ill-advised punishment, sorry demotion, Conforto is 5-for-9 with three runs, a double, a homer, and two RBI.

This isn’t a PCL mirage either as we’ve already seen Conforto do this at the major league level. The big difference as I see it comes down to consistent playing time. If the Mets really want to win, they would do well to call up Conforto and play him everyday because at his worst, he’s still better than what the Mets are throwing out there right now.

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With Dilson Herrera Gone, Mets Have Some Options Internally http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/with-dilson-herrera-gone-mets-have-some-options-internally.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/with-dilson-herrera-gone-mets-have-some-options-internally.html/#comments Sat, 06 Aug 2016 13:50:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=219839 Walker Neil

Before the season began, fans and media knew that Neil Walker would more than likely just be a one-year stopgap for the Mets. Acquired in the off-season trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for lefty Jon Niese, Walker was the backup plan for the Mets not winning the Ben Zobrist free agency sweepstakes. And of course, by saving on Zobrist the Mets were able to sign Yoenis Cespedes to what is seemingly a one-year deal.

Fast forward to the end of July, at a point where the Mets were desperately searching for offense in the worst way. The injury bug stung the Mets clubhouse and many players were simply under-performing on the year, leaving a large void in the lineup on a nightly basis.

General Manager Sandy Alderson pulled off a trade before the deadline approached Monday afternoon, swapping second base prized prospect Dilson Herrera and lefty Max Wotell to the Cincinnati Reds for right fielder Jay Bruce. While Bruce is not expected to pull off the miraculous second half that Cespedes showcased last season, he is expected to generate some power and hopefully continue to contribute to his outstanding numbers with runners in scoring position this year.

However, by trading away Herrera, who was presumed to be next in line to take over the vacated second base position in 2017, the Mets are left to decide who to turn to for that position in the off-season. Depending on how Walker finishes his 2016 season, he might be a candidate to bring back, even if it’s just on the one-year qualifying offer.

The Mets have some decisions to make on that though, because offering a qualifying offer this off-season would likely mean a salary near $17 million annually, a steep price to pay for a guy that has had prolonged slumps this season, including from May 1 to June 30, where Walker put up a slash line of .233/.313/.349 with five homers, 13 RBI, and 39 strikeouts in 51 games.

Of course the flip side of offering Walker the qualifying offer would be in hopes that he rejects it, looking instead to land a multi-year deal in what seemingly might be his last big payday. The Mets would collect a compensation draft pick for Walker turning down the offer, and would be able to keep stockpiling young talent in the minor leagues.

Another option would be to try Jose Reyes out at second base for next season, since he holds a team option at the league minimum, since Colorado is on the hook for the rest of his contract. The option would have to be exercised within five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Although he hasn’t played the position since the Kaz Matsui experiment in 2004, Reyes has handled third base well in limited action this year, and giving him all of the off-season along with spring would surely give him the necessary time to adjust to second base. The question with Reyes however, is whether or not he can stay healthy during the course of the year.

t.j. rivera

What I propose for the second base conundrum, would be to give two in-house options a chance to earn the starting job. Local product T.J. Rivera and Gavin Cecchini are both viable options to get a chance to earn the spot in 2017.

Rivera, 27, was a topic of discussion back in the spring, when I detailed why he should be given a shot at the major league level. Once again, Rivera has done nothing but hit at Triple A Las Vegas this season, as of Friday afternoon Rivera posted a line of .343/.387/.497 with 10 homers, 74 RBI, and 58 runs scored in 93 games. Rivera has mainly maned third base this season, starting 57 games at the hot corner.

However, Rivera has spent time at second during the course of his minor league career, totaling 262 games at second. Just as recently as last year, Rivera appeared in 39 games at second for Las Vegas and Binghamton, amassing 330 innings played with a .994 fielding percentage.

And on the ever popular topic of hitting with runners in scoring position, something that has been almost as rare this season for the Mets as the famous T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, Rivera has posted a line of .404/.446/.605 in 114 at-bats this year.

What’s also great about Rivera is that he doesn’t strike out a ton, normally within the 11-13% range, while getting on base around 37-38% of the time each year. Throughout his entire minor league career, the lowest wRC+ that Rivera has posted was 103, however in 2015 in Double A Rivera posted a 144 wRC+, then a 111 wRC+ in Triple A in 54 games last year. This season, with Rivera spending the entire year at Triple A, he’s posted another strong wRC+ of 134, with league and park adjusted in the calculation, which is good considering the Pacific Coast League is normally a hitter friendly league, and can give a better idea of the type of hitter Rivera is.

Consistency has been a reoccurring theme for Rivera’s minor league career, now he just needs an opportunity to showcase his talent in Queens. He finally earned a spot with the major league club in spring this year, an encouraging sign that maybe the Mets will be open to giving Rivera a shot down the line. This past week in fact, Alderson admitted that Rivera was a consideration for a call up to replace the injured Cespedes who landed on the 15-day disabled list, however since he’s played primarily in the infield, the Mets went with Brandon Nimmo, who’s already on the 40-man roster, instead.

gavin cecchini

The other possibility is with Cecchini, 22, the 12th overall pick in 2012 who has posted yet another strong offensive campaign this season. Cecchini’s line of .316/.390/.440 with five homers and 41 RBI is yet another appealing hitter for the Mets to think about utilizing next year. Like Rivera, Cecchini is also an on-base machine, with almost as many walks (40) as strikeouts (42), and has lowered his strikeout rate drastically from his early minor league seasons to a reasonable 11.5% this year. Cecchini also boasts strong numbers with runners in scoring position, with a line of .348/.430/.489 in 92 at-bats.

His bat has intrigued scouts the last few seasons, it’s his glove that needs improvement. Cecchini has been a shortstop throughout his entire minor league career, amassing 387 games at the position. He received positive grades by scouts on his fielding prowess early on in his career, however, the last three seasons Cecchini has recorded 27, 28, and 29 errors at short, many of them throwing errors. With top prospect Amed Rosario in Double A and making a strong case to be ready by mid 2017 to take over at short, keeping Cecchini at short in Triple A seems foolish. Why not move him over to second, where he can have the rest of the year to get accustomed to the position, and then have him transition in the off-season where he can compete in camp for the spot in 2017? His offensive game is intriguing enough to warrant a tryout at second base.

Both Rivera and Cecchini offer solid splits against both righties and lefties this season, and Rivera offers the option of playing multiple positions for the Mets. Alderson and Co. will have plenty of choices for second next year, the question is, do they finally give a shot to two players that fans have heard about and are waiting to see, or perhaps go a different route, perhaps sticking with Walker for another season or going with Reyes and or Flores? With Herrera out of the mix, Rivera and Cecchini at the very least move up the ladder, and continue to let their consistent play and stats do all the talking for them.

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Morning Grind: Forget Moving Neil Walker To Third Base http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/morning-grind-forget-moving-neil-walker-to-third-base.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/morning-grind-forget-moving-neil-walker-to-third-base.html/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2016 13:58:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213866 dilson herrera

If some of you are holding your breaths waiting for the Mets to promote top prospect Dilson Herrera to the major leagues in light of the news on David Wright, it’s time to exhale. Go ahead and let that air out because there’s little chance you’ll see Herrera anytime soon.

Mike Puma of the New York Post has confirmed what I was saying yesterday about shifting Neil Walker to third base to make room for Dilson at second base.

The Mets, according to a front office source, have reservations about moving Walker to third base to open up a spot for Dilson Herrera – who can only play second.

Walker has played just 15 games at third base in the majors, but it was so long ago and before he became a regular for the Pirates, and he wasn’t very good as his two errors in 31 chances clearly illustrate. In fact, the Pirates ditched the idea of Walker as a third baseman in 2010 and he hasn’t played there ever since. 

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As of this morning, Neil Walker is the only player on the Mets roster batting over .280 and he’s second on the team with 13 home runs, two behind Yoenis Cespedes, and ranking 10th in the major leagues.

The last thing the offense starved Mets need is to upset the apple cart where Walker is concerned, by uprooting him from his natural second base position and plopping him at third base in some half-assed attempt at damage control..

So unless the Mets make a deal – or promote T.J. Rivera – expect Herrera to remain at Triple-A Las Vegas where he’s batting .288 (8th on the team) with 8 home runs and 28 RBIs.

The fact is, the Mets never really believed that Herrera would be ready to step into regular playing time in 2016, and that’s why they traded for Neil Walker in the first place, after taking a pass on Daniel Murphy and getting snubbed by Ben Zobrist.

So at least for the next 4-5 weeks – when teams will be more open to dealing – expect the Mets to navigate through this period with the likes of Wilmer Flores, Ty Kelly and Matt Reynolds.

Sandy Alderson – being the stealthy executive that he is – could still surprise us with an unlikely deal for a significant piece. But it seems too early to identify the sellers outside of the 3-4 bottom dwelling teams.

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Mets Minors: T. J. Rivera Still Hustling For An MLB Opportunity http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mets-minors-t-j-rivera-still-hustling-for-an-mlb-opportunity.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mets-minors-t-j-rivera-still-hustling-for-an-mlb-opportunity.html/#comments Mon, 02 May 2016 18:34:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210920 t.j. rivera

Minor Leaguer T.J. Rivera is doing what T.J. Rivera always does – hit the baseball like crazy. Rivera, an unsung infielder in the Met farm system is blistering hot going 14- for-36 in his last ten games hitting .389 with two home runs and 8 RBI. On the season, Rivera is batting .338 with a team high 15 RBI and .538 slugging percentage. He is currently second on the team in hits and doubles and third in runs scored and total bases.

Rivera’s offensive explosion is no surprise to me. Over parts of the last two seasons in Binghamton, he never let B-Met fans down in the batter’s box. A consistent contact hitter, the 27-year old Rivera batted .358 for the B-Mets in 2014 and .341 the following year. The kid has a lifetime .319 minor league batting average covering 2.075 at-bats as a pro. B-Met fans understand you get the same focused, hard nosed, day of work every time T.J. steps on the baseball diamond.

That same hard-nosed consistency makes Rivera a versatile asset on the defensive side of the ball. As injuries and roster demands dictated in Binghamton, he was asked to play third base, shortstop and second base. Rivera lacks range but makes up for that with great hands, acute baseball instincts and steady play wherever he’s asked to handle the glove in the infield.

Undrafted entering professional baseball, Rivera understood climbing the Met minor league ladder would be difficult. But he is determined to prove himself as a worthy piece in a major league dugout someday.

Undeterred, Rivera has earned the respect of his teammates wherever he’s played. Current Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki, spoke to Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News last month about his gritty teammate.

“He rakes, it’s as simple as that. He’s hit everywhere he’s gone and it’s kind of made a lot of us scratch our heads as to why it’s taken so long to climb the ladder for him. He never lets that get to him and grinds every day. It’s been fun watching him have success.”

B-Met skipper understands Rivera’s value telling MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo that Rivera gave his team a professional at-bat time after time. It appears that’s exactly what Las Vegas skipper Wally Backman is getting from Rivera this spring in the Pacific Coast League. Hopefully, one day soon, T.J. Rivera will get that chance to prove he belongs in the major leagues to fill a key utility role.

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Mets Minors: First Impressions Of Mets Prospect Dominic Smith http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mets-minors-first-impressions-of-mets-prospect-dominic-smith.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mets-minors-first-impressions-of-mets-prospect-dominic-smith.html/#comments Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:20:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210628 dominic smith swings

I was eager to see top prospect Dominic Smith during the current Binghamton Mets home stand. It was my first look at the kid and he certainly passed the eye test.

The return of more winter weather to upstate New York and the fact that I’m coaching a high school baseball team, delayed my first visit to Binghamton’s NYSEG Stadium. That made me chomping at the bit to finally see the team on their current homestead.

My curiosity was high to finally get a look at Dominic Smith, the Mets number one pick in the 2013 draft out of Junipero Sierra High School in Gardena, California. I had read a good deal on MetsMerized about Smith, but was surprised to discover just how big the 20-year old first baseman really is. This kid is huge, a wide-bodied force in the batter’s box.

Smith didn’t disappoint. Over my first four trips at the park, Smith smacked a total of 8 hits. The kid entered the homestead batting a paltry .174. His two-hit effort in Wednesday night’s 3-2 B-Met victory had boosted his batting average 92 points over the last six games to a more respectable .266 with more room to grow.

Smith has a short, compact swing and laces the ball to all fields. The kid has hit well in the clutch knocking home seven runs in the first six games of the home stand, the last ribby a game winner in last night’s victory.

Driving in runs is not uncommon for Smith. The big first baseman led the entire Mets minor league system with 79 runs batted in last season playing in only 118 games for Single-A St. Lucie. He posted an impressive slash line of .305/.354/.417 and was named the MVP of the Florida State League. Smith continued his offensive onslaught in the Arizona Fall League batting .362/.483/.511.

Although Smith has not yet shown the home run pop many expected, he did lead the Florida State League with 33 doubles last season, and I’m sure many of those will eventually translate into home runs as he fills out.

Some say “first impressions are lasting.” If that’s the case, I’m going to enjoy watching Dom Smith wearing orange and blue for a long, long time.

For the best coverage of Mets prospects, there’s only one MetsMinors.net.

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Mets Release Carlyle, Reassign Rivera, Muno, Kelly, Bernadina http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mets-release-carlyle-reassign-rivera-muno-kelly-bernadina.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mets-release-carlyle-reassign-rivera-muno-kelly-bernadina.html/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2016 13:15:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208355 buddy carlyle

The New York Mets have released right-handed reliever Buddy Carlyle, the team announced on Friday. Carlyle, who was returning from hip surgery, had a 8.10 ERA over seven spring appearances.

The team also announced that infielders Daniel Muno, T.J. Rivera, Ty Kelly and outfielder Roger Bernadina have been reassigned to minor league camp.

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Where’s The Love For T.J. Rivera? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/wheres-the-love-for-t-j-rivera.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/wheres-the-love-for-t-j-rivera.html/#comments Wed, 09 Mar 2016 15:30:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=207494 T.J.-Rivera3

Every so often you might peruse through the Mets minor league statistics, see who’s on a hitting streak, latest pitching highlights, or how the teams are faring in the standings. I for one love to go on MiLB.com and dissect some minor league numbers, as all of us try to predict who might have a future with our beloved ball club.

Which makes me wonder, why do some players that clearly have commendable stats to be given a chance to prove their worth, not get the call-ups? Why are some players perennially stuck in a baseball limbo if you will, between Double A and Triple A? Especially when said players have distinguished their abilities not just in one season, but over several productive years.

A name I’ve been hearing about for some time now is Thomas Javier Rivera, or T.J. Rivera for short. Rivera was undrafted out of Troy University in Alabama in 2011, and a week later signed on with the Mets as a free agent. It’s surprising no one took a chance on Rivera in the draft, in the three years he played college ball at Wallace Community College and Troy University, Rivera put up a combined slash line of .320/.368/.466, good for an OPS of .834. He only struck out 51 times in 631 at-bats, and in his senior year at Troy, he had 24 walks compared to 14 strikeouts.

t.j. rivera

Since his time in the Mets farm system, Rivera has been a jack-of-all-trades, playing all over the infield throughout the various minor league levels. His best statistical position appears to be second base, where he owns a lifetime fielding percentage of .975. He’s not the fleetest of infielders, yet he can hold his own quite well wherever he’s placed. Binghamton Mets hitting coach Luis Natera spoke about Rivera’s fielding prowess last season.

“He’s a steady fielder,” Natera said. “He’s not a Gold Glover, but he’s steady, can turn a double play. He has average range, he just needs to be a little quicker.”

What’s appealing about Rivera besides his versatility in the field is his bat, and penchant for getting on base. Here’s Rivera’s OBP the last four seasons in the minors:

2015 –  .364

2014 –  .388

2013 –   .348

2012 –   .372

Rivera’s minor league OBP is .366, which is rather impressive when comparing to current members of the Mets infield. Wilmer Flores for example had a minor league OBP of .334. Ruben Tejada had a .338 OBP. Newly acquired Neil Walker’s was .323. Only Lucas Duda (.380) and David Wright (.391) had higher minor league career OBP than Rivera.

The 2014 and 2015 seasons were two of his best statistical years. Splitting time between St. Lucie and Binghamton in ’14, Rivera compiled a slash line of .349/.388/.446, with an OPS of .834. He also knocked in 75 runs, and scored 70 times. In ’15, Rivera split time with Binghamton and Las Vegas, where his stat line was .325/.364/.449, with an OPS of .814. Rivera’s RBI total was down from the previous year at 48, but he still scored 63 runs.

Clearly his offensive abilities has stayed very consistent year in and year out. Last year, when speaking to the NY Post, ex-Mets vice-president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta had this to say about Rivera’s offense.

“He’s just a really good baseball player who has excellent barrel control,” said DePodesta. “He centers up more baseballs than most anybody in the minor leagues.”

Rivera_TJ_credit_Bruce_Adler_Binghamton_Mets_050815.jpg

Unfortunately for Rivera it doesn’t seem like he’ll get a chance with the Mets. He’s moved down the totem pole of backup infielders, with guys like Matt Reynolds, Dilson Herrera, Gavin Cecchini, and Ruben Tejada holding precedent over him. And now with Flores being the super utility guy on the team, Rivera might need a change of scenery to get a shot at the big leagues.

Rivera should hope for a chance at the big leagues soon, even if that’s not with the Mets. When he played with Binghamton last year, he was 1.6 years older than the average Double A player. Rivera turned 27 when the Mets opened their World Series bid against the Kansas City Royals on October 27th.

Rivera understands that his chances are growing smaller with the rise of infield prospects the Mets have along with the exciting middle-infield talent at lower levels such as Amed Rosario, Luis Carpio, Milton Ramos, Luis Guillorme, and Gregory Guerrero. Here’s what Rivera said last year on how he’s had to prove himself every year, especially considering he went undrafted.

“I figured it was going to be a little harder for me to move up the rankings. I knew that coming in, so I was expecting I had to prove myself over and over.”

Rivera seems to have a positive attitude while he goes about doing what he does best, hitting for a high average and getting on base. He was invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee for the first time this year, which has to raise his hopes up some. If nothing else, he provides added insurance for the Mets in the minor leagues, and hopes to make an impression, whether that’s with the only team he has been apart of, or with another. The Spring offers a chance for him to showcase his talents to a plethora of scouts in attendance, with hopes of maybe someday exhibiting those gaudy on-base numbers in the Major Leagues.

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