Mets Merized Online » time http://metsmerizedonline.com Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:40:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Should The Mets Deal Or Keep Alejandro De Aza http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/should-the-mets-deal-or-keep-alejandro-de-aza.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/should-the-mets-deal-or-keep-alejandro-de-aza.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:36:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205703 alejandro de aza 2

At the press conference on Wednesday, re-introducing Yoenis Cespedes to the masses to make his new contract official, the issue of what Alejandro De Aza‘s role will be came up when Sandy Alderson spoke to reporters afterward. Naturally, he’s expected to be on the bench ready, willing, and able to play all three outfield positions. But perhaps, that is jumping the gun a bit:

This really just confirms what every Mets fan thought when De Aza came aboard. De Aza signed with the Mets to share center field duties with Juan Lagares, mostly because Sandy Alderson admittedly didn’t believe they would be able to sign Cespedes. Yet, somehow, Cespedes’ strong desire to remain with the Mets changed everything and the stars aligned for both sides to get a deal done, essentially relegating Lagares and De Aza to 4th and 5th outfielder roles.

Now, we are not privy to what, if any, promises were made to De Aza.  We do know at the time De Aza was signed to his $5.75 million deal, at worst he would serve as the team’s fourth outfielder, but it was far more likely he was going to have a legitimate shot to get the bulk of the at-bats in center field. Now, he’s the team’s fifth outfielder. I’m sure he’s not happy with being pushed down the depth chart without even playing one game, especially when he could’ve signed elsewhere.

Now, De Aza can’t be traded until June 15th unless he consents to a deal, which he very well might. While every player wants to win, every player also wants to play. Right now, De Aza’s at-bats will be few and far between as he’s the left-handed option off the bench, and our corner outfielders both hit left-handed as well. He could be buried on the bench for a while. It’s not exactly an exciting proposition for a 31 year old utility outfielder.

So yes, we understand why De Aza would want to be traded, but why would the Mets want to trade him?  With the Brandon Nimmo injury and the Darrell Ceciliani trade, De Aza is it when it comes to organizational center field depth. Well, there are a few good reasons.

First, De Aza may not be happy on the bench for long stretches, especially after he signed believing that he could be a starter with the Mets. Could that grow into a bigger concern once the season begins? No, I’m not suggesting De Aza is a bad guy. Rather, I’m saying any player not getting sufficient playing time is an issue that could eventually come to a head.

On the plus side Terry Collins has always had a good grasp of running the clubhouse and he handled the Michael Cuddyer situation quite well when the veteran lost his everyday job to Michael Conforto.

Another reason you trade De Aza now is this might be the time when he has the most value. As teams look to fill out their rosters for Spring Training and/or the regular season, De Aza may be a very attractive option. The Mets aren’t likely to get much in return, but whatever they do get is most likely to be better than what they get around the trade deadline.

And who knows, maybe after they deal De Aza, they can fill his roster spot with a right-handed bat who can play the corner outfield and first base – that was the plan before the Mets signed Cespedes. A power bat to spell Granderson or Duda against left-handed pitching.

Whether or not the Mets trade De Aza, we should be able to agree on one thing. De Aza is here because the Mets never expected Cespedes to be here. Now the Mets need to find playing time for FIVE major league caliber outfielders.

This really is a nice problem to have especially when you think back to a few years ago when the Mets general manager famously quipped, “Outfield? What outfield?”  Sometimes, it’s not so bad when a plan doesn’t come together.

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2015 Mets Contact Rates: A Tale Of Quality vs. Quantity http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/2015-mets-contact-rates-a-tale-of-quality-vs-quantity.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/2015-mets-contact-rates-a-tale-of-quality-vs-quantity.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 14:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205605 lucas duda

It used to be you could tell when a ball was hit hard because it made a loud noise and it moved quickly through the air. Now, according to Baseball Information Solutions, you need an algorithm

“BIS now records certain hard data (duration of hang time and landing location) with the observed hit type — liner, grounder, etc. — and then an algorithm decides if the ball is hard hit.” Neil Weinberg via Hardball Times.  The actual algorithm is proprietary, so we have to take their word for what constitutes “hard contact,” but, generally speaking, the calculation is based on hang time, location, and trajectory.

I see it playing out something like this, David Wright lines out to Dee Gordon and as he’s taking his batting gloves off in the dugout he complains to Kevin Long, “Dagnabbit Mr. Long, I really thought I tattooed that one,” at which point Kevin Long pulls out a handy printout, “Sorry son, the algorithm says it was medium – see, right there.”

The truth is that the almost infinite diversity of statistics is one of the things that makes baseball so fascinating for so many. There was a time when a kid who saw [∂∂pβ(λ)∂∂λ+2(1−γ(λ))] G(2)(p)=0 in his head, when told to put a bunt down the first base line, would have no place on a baseball diamond. Now, the same kid can turn a soft blooper into a screaming liner with the right algorithm.

It’s amazing what data can tell you. For instance, it was recently discovered that guys like Giancarlo Stanton who routinely hit the ball hard, tend to be good hitters. A shocker, I know – there’s even proof in the form of a correlation study between wOBA and exit velocity.

EXIT VELOCITY AND wOBA IN 2015 (1)

It’s not the biggest of correlations, but it’s there.

Ultimately BIS modified their approach with hang time and landing to presumably make it less of an abstraction. Previously hard/soft hit% data involved some guy who would watch the games and decide whether balls were hit hard, medium, or soft … I mean, if he drops a melted cheese Dorito on his vintage Jethro Tull jersey, it can skew the results. So the algorithm is a good thing in spite of my incessant persiflage.

But technology is only good if you can use it, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why StatCast exit velocities have yet to be employed quantifying hard and soft hit%. There are limitations (StatCast has trouble with weak contact) but the potential to disambiguate contact rates at the initial judgment level is tremendous. There is in fact some preliminary data showing that StatCast exit velocity correlates closely with hard% contact, which I’m sure brought a sigh of relief from the guy with the stained Jethro Tull shirt — who may want to keep his job options open nonetheless (I hear UZR is hiring).

Over the past few seasons, indications are that soft and medium contact rates have risen in MLB while hard contact has fallen. Teams have increasingly delved into contact rates in an effort to improve, and for good reason. A top 10 leaderboard for hard% contact features dignitaries such as Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, and Miguel Cabrera (by the way Lucas Duda comes in at #11).

murphy wright

The Mets had a 31.5% hard contact rate in 2015, good for best in the game. The Mets are also tied for the fourth lowest hard% contact rate allowed (27.5%). Now there are lots of reasons teams succeed, but you have to think that the ability to make solid contact while preventing the opposition from doing the same gives you quite the advantage.

Sure enough the 2015 Mets made it to the World Series where they faced … the Royals with their 22nd in the league hard% contact rate and their 19th in the league hard% contact allowed … nothing to write Dorothy about. The Royals also had the lowest line drive percentage (19%) in all of baseball, while the Mets were third (22%).

The 2015 Mets hit the ball with authority more than just about anyone, which is very much in line with their selective philosophy – wait for your pitch, square it, clobber it. Yet they were beaten by a team who threw quality contact out the window in favor of plain old ordinary contact. The Royals led the league in contact% with an 81.9% mark.

KC also gave up quite a lot of hard contact (29.3%) but compensated with a top-notch defense. For the Mets, on the other hand, it didn’t make much sense to spend a lot of time or money on defense, given their high-K pitching staff and relatively low hard% contact rate (27.5%). The Mets looked like the better team, yet the Royals, a catch and throw outfit designed to spray the ball around, beat them in 5.

It’s doubtful that Dayton Moore, knowing his Royals were destined to play the Mets in the fall classic, specifically designed a team that would act as their ultimate foil … but it felt that way. The Mets vs. the Royals in the World Series was a tale of quantity trumping quality. In the end, the Royals were able to scrape enough runs together by putting the ball in play, while many a Met line drive ended up in a Royal mitt.

Still, the ability to hit the ball hard has to count for something, and, given the correlations (below) between that skill and other offensive indicators, (not to mention the wOBA / EV chart above), I’d hesitate to scrap the pursuit of quality contact in favor of increasing overall contact.

Correlations:
R2 with ISO: 0.70
R2 with SLG: 0.63
R2 with wRC+: 0.57

(Courtesy of Hardball Times)

From the Mets perspective it’s hard to find fault. Chances are they won’t have to face this same Royals team again in a World Series, and there’s a good chance that if they do, they could just as easily beat them. I’m also not sure there’s an overarching lesson here … for instance, in spite of the fact that the Mets lost to the Royals, I’d take hard contact over more “general” contact, because, again, according to the correlations above, it means you have better hitters. Furthermore, if you’re facing a team that can field, that’s all the more reason to hit the ball hard – anybody can make the routine play.

If there’s a caveat it’s that defense has to be more than an afterthought. The most ambiguous and unwieldy of all the branches of Sabermetrics, defense it turns out was the Mets’ Achilles heel all along. Hard contact will play as will power pitching, but if you are going up against a team who puts the bat to the ball, you’d best be able to field.

The Royals had an insane 59.6 dWAR in 2015, easily tops in the game (26.7 points ahead of the second place team). The Mets? 17th, with a 2.3 dWAR. In 2015, the Royals had 24.4 more defensive wins above replacement than the Mets.

If I’m Sandy Alderson, I am all of a sudden very interested in recalibrating the value of defense in a seven game series and I’m checking to see whether StatCast velocity data comes in a dry aerosol.

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The Times, They Are A Changin’ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/the-times-they-are-a-changin-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/the-times-they-are-a-changin-2.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:30:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205692 sandy alderson

From all accounts, there was something different about the media session Mets GM Sandy Alderson held with reporters on Wednesday. When the subject turned to spending and payroll and what those two would look like in the future, there wasn’t the typical defensive posture or the always omnipresent vagueness that we’ve become so accustomed to over the years.

Most of all, Sandy exuded a distinct confidence and awareness that’s rarely ever seen when the topic centers around the financial viability of the New York Mets. In many ways I found the totality of his comments at Citi Field and what he said in a couple of interviews shortly after on TV and radio, to be quite profound, prescient and refreshing.

“If the Cespedes signing says anything,” Alderson told reporters on Wednesday, “it’s that there are no possibilities that will be dismissed out of hand strictly for financial reasons.”

 And if that wasn’t astounding enough, Sandy Alderson doubled down a few minutes later when asked if this was some bold new era for the franchise. “You mean is the $140 the new $85?” Alderson quipped.

“I don’t think we’re going to be as mindful of the ‘140’ number as most of you in the media. But, in a sense, in terms of order of magnitude, and assuming we continue to play well, we don’t anticipate it going back to those prior levels.”

And if that’s still not enough to fill your Mets coffers. the Mets GM then shifted the conversation to contract extensions – contract extensions mind you – for all of the team’s young pitchers.

“Even if the payroll were to go up, you’re still going to have to make choices. It’s nice that we have some of those choices to make, and we certainly want to be in a position to keep some or all of those pitchers. I don’t mean to say we’re not going to keep them all. I’d love to keep them all. We just have to make sure we’re providing for that as we go forward.”

“Is it realistic? I think it could happen,” Alderson said. “It’s a lot of money and you might have to look at other aspects of your roster. And that’s, of course, where the farm system comes into play as well. I don’t want to foreclose any possibility.” (ESPN NY)

Do our ears deceive us? After all, he’s talking about that same rotation we recently calculated would cost about $500 million or more to keep them all in Flushing when the time comes to pay the piper.

Now there was one final thing Sandy said yesterday that warmed my heart. It was as if he took the words right out of my mouth, or should I say straight from what I twice wrote in the past ten days.

“Sometimes we have a habit — we do in an organization, and fans as well — of thinking about the guys we have now, but thinking more about when we’re going to lose them rather than enjoying the moment. And that moment hopefully lasts two, three, four, five years.”

Take a bow, Sandy…  You’ve hit the nail on the head. Now is not the time to worry about what we’re going to do in 2020 as far as keeping the team intact. We’ve got a World Series title or two well within our grasp, and that’s what all of us should be focusing on right now. And that’s all I really care about. The times, they are a changin’.

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Alderson: Mets Can Still Add Payroll, Will Begin Extension Talks With Young Pitchers http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/alderson-mets-can-still-add-payroll-will-begin-extension-talks-with-young-pitchers.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/alderson-mets-can-still-add-payroll-will-begin-extension-talks-with-young-pitchers.html/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 18:54:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205664 Pittsburgh vs Mets

After the Yoenis Cespedes press conference at Citi Field on Wednesday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson fielded a couple of questions from reporters about the team, payroll and even something near and dear to all of our hearts – extension deals for some of our young pitchers.

Sandy Alderson said it’s possible that extension talks for young pitchers like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and others can begin as soon as spring training. And he did nor rule out signing All Of Them.

Alderson added that despite the team’s payroll already at roughly $140 million, they still have the financial resources to add payroll if it becomes necessary to add more pieces during the season. “There is plenty of flexibility when we get to the trade deadline.”

However, with regards to re-signing Tyler Clippard, Sandy toned down expectations saying he expects the former Met setup man to sign a major league deal with another team. He does not expect the Mets to sign any players on a major league deal heading into Spring Training.

On the subject of who plays right field when Curtis Granderson sits against left-handed pitching, you can expect to see Michael Conforto and Alejandro De Aza to get some time there.

When Cespedes was asked about playing in RF, he responded that he has never played the position and has not been approached about playing there, but he will do whatever the team needs.

We’re at the dawn of a new golden era for the Mets. 2015 was only the beginning. LGM

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Message From Vic Black: Thank You, New York http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/message-from-vic-black-thank-you-new-york.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/message-from-vic-black-thank-you-new-york.html/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 23:05:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205609 vic_black_1280_34sphmp6_e19wpifx

Thank You New York, by Vic Black

As some of you may have gathered my time with the New York Mets is at its end. I didn’t play for 10 years nor was I an All-star or contributor to last seasons amazing run BUT I’ll never forget my time playing for the greatest fans/city in baseball.

From walking the streets of Manhattan, to riding the 7 Line daily to Citi Field I was given moments I’ll remember for my lifetime. See I get why a lot of people picture New York as giant skyscrapers, crazy taxis and busy, busy people BUT what gets the bad rap are exactly what make this city the greatest: it’s the PEOPLE of New York.

They are what make it “New York”. I remember a moment during the All-star break in 2014. I had stayed in NYC for the break to just enjoy the city. I decided one night to go see a movie at the AMC Empire 25 theatre off 42nd. What’s funny is I couldn’t tell you what movie or if I had even enjoyed it but what happened next is why I get a bit teary eyed still to this day.

You see I was walking out around 11 pm or so and had come to W42nd & 8th Ave and was waiting for the light to change so I could head home. Upon crossing the street there was an older gentleman in a ball cap walking the opposite direction as we passed each other I heard him say “Nice first half Vic! We are happy you are with us. Best of luck in the second half.”

I didn’t love this because I was recognized rather because it was at its most intimate and simplistic level a perfect example of how the people of New York are. You were kind in welcoming me to YOUR family and I’ll always have blue and orange running in my blood. New York captured my heart and nothing can ever take that away. You gave me a gift, experiences and moments I’ll cherish forever. I’m counting the days till my next visit in whatever capacity it may be.

I love you New York!

Vic Black

Two Words…. Class Fu*king Act…

Here’s an interview Tommy Rothman did with Vic Black a couple of years ago for MMO.

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Why Is Eric Campbell Still On The 40 Man Roster? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/why-is-eric-campbell-still-on-the-40-man-roster.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/why-is-eric-campbell-still-on-the-40-man-roster.html/#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 20:03:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205212 eric campbell

After the Yoenis Cespedes trade was made official, the Mets had to make room for him on the 40 man roster.  The decision came down to Darrell Ceciliani and Eric Campbell. Much to the chagrin of many Mets fans, Ceciliani was cut from the roster, and Campbell remained on the 40 man roster. It seems that Campbell has more lives than that black cat that crossed the path of the ’69 Cubs.

I understand where Mets fans are coming from with their dislike of Campbell. Both he and John Mayberry, Jr. became symbolic of the ineptitude of the Mets offense during the months of May through July when the team struggled to score runs. However, that wasn’t Campbell’s fault per se. It was the Mets’ fault for not only being forced to play him everyday, but also batting him in the middle of the lineup.

Look, Campbell is a useful, hard working player that is doing everything he can to be a big league player. Last year, he began working to develop himself into an emergency catcher. In his short major league career, he has played every position except pitcher, catcher, and center field. He has come through for the Mets many times in a pinch.

His main problem is that he gets overexposed once he gets extended playing time. That’s true for anyone who is best suited to being a bench player. In his career, Campbell has accumulated a -0.1 WAR. His OPS+ is 84. His wRC+ is 88. These are ugly numbers which explain his .231/.317/.328 stat line. However, no matter how much Mets fans believe otherwise, there is some hope for Campbell.

Last year, his BABIP was an almost unrealistically low .230. The league average for BABIP is .300, which suggests Campbell would be in line to improve those 2015 statistics. There is hope he can increase his BABIP because Campbell was hitting the ball hard last year, but apparently he was hitting it at people.

There’s also the fact that Campbell has been an effective pinch hitter. In his 54 pinch hitting appearances, Campbell has hit .293/.426/.390. In what was a bad year for him, he still was able to have a positive impact as a pinch hitter with some key pinch hits that gave the Mets late leads in games.

So overall, it appears that Campbell can be a useful player if he’s properly utilized. Last year’s injuries prevented that. Now, he’s where he belongs. He’s in AAA waiting to be called up in case someone gets injured. When that time comes, and you know someone will get injured, there’s a very good chance it’s Campbell who is called up because he’s the only man on the 40 man roster with experience and a good track record for being a bench and utility player.

Ultimately, that’s why Sandy Alderson opted to keep Campbell and why he’s still here. The Mets see a player who should not have as much bad luck as he did last year. He’s a guy who fits into the Mets concept of having versatile bench players. Overall, the Mets see a player that is much better than what some fans may believe.

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Making Mets Memories http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/making-mets-memories.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/making-mets-memories.html/#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2016 19:08:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205100 Piazza portrait

Mets’ fans are finally nestled, all snug in their beds, with visions of spring training – and Mister Cespedes, and a thrilling season – dancing in their heads.

So with pitchers and catchers still maddeningly distant, and plenty of time for counting now that the dealing’s done (didn’t think I could fit St. Nicholas and (the good) Kenny Rogers in the same column, did you?), now is the perfect time to discuss something we don’t have much time to delve into during the season or even the hot stove.

Memorabilia. The things that invoke the most pleasant memories of the years invested in our Metropolitans.  From ticket stubs to game-used MLB baseballs to limited edition paintings, everyone has his or her own unique collection, be it big or small, older stuff or newer stuff, bought or caught.

I say this as no memorabilia maven, but rather as a Mets lifer with no more – or less – interest in memorabilia than the next guy, though I do value having cool Mets’ stuff enough to visit Cooperstown twice in recent years and spend hours on end leisurely strolling through and perusing the merchandise in that seamhead paradise (not to mention displaying flashy Mets license plates on two cars).

But this column is not so much about my collection as it is about yours.  It is designed to induce you to discuss in the comments section your own collection, what memorabilia you value, and why.  I’ll start the festivities.

One of the best things about being a fan of the Mets at my age is that I have witnessed the entirety of the team’s history,  And since the Mets are now entering their 55th season, this is hardly like being a lifer for all 11 seasons of the Nationals, or proud that you have been alive for all 23 seasons of the Marlins’ or Rockies’ existence.

Sure, we’re not the Yankees or Red Sox or Cardinals, but there is a real history with this franchise   An amazing one, for both better and worse.   And unlike those who were not around or too young to remember ‘69 or ‘73 or ‘86 or even 2000, having been there since it all began makes it difficult to pick between the myriad options available in the market.

For starters, I wanted to engrave in my mind the high points of Mets history, the moments that never cease to make me smile (in one case, sadly).  I was willing to pay for stuff that was well produced, framed and autographed so as to create a handsome wall in our guest room that can stand the test of wifely scrutiny (of course, it doesn’t hurt that my wife has become as big a fan as me).

Cleon

And so I started with Cleon Jones’ catch on one knee to end the ‘69 series, pictured here.  It has an authentication certificate (though I’ve never really understood whether that is worth much).

Buckner

The Buckner play is a must-have, but it had to be signed by both Mookie and Buckner.

Then, I added a photo that was at once memorable, heart-breaking and intensely personal.  The last great moment at Shea, Endy’s catch, which I witnessed in person from the first row of a loge box behind the plate.  That’s the one that gives me the sad smile.

Endy

The 1999-2000 team and the 2015 team have posed problems because there were not the same kind of singular moments as the other years, but here is where I got lucky.

First, a particularly thoughtful friend gave me a birthday gift with a very special meaning: a single frame screen capture from the TV feed of that magic moment, the Nieuwenhuis homer in DC in September that completed our comeback from 7-1 down and all but clinched the division…with my wife sitting directly above Kirk’s helmet and me just to the right (or her left)…reacting as the ball came off the bat.  I must get Captain Kirk to autograph it one of these days.

Kirk

And now that Mr. Cespedes is on board again, cementing the metamorphosis of this star-crossed franchise that commenced when he first arrived,  I may yet go for something like this.

Of course, I could always opt for this one of the Mets winning the pennant at Wrigley Field (or maybe I’ll just send one to the Cubs’ obnoxious owner with the caption…maybe next time, you can actually win a game against us).

Ah, but then, the piece de resistance. For my 60th birthday, I was gifted the absolutely gorgeous painting of our newly elected Hall of Famer Mike Piazza pictured atop this column.  It really is mesmerizing in a Field of Dreams kind of way, and I find myself gazing at it endlessly.  I understand prints of it, signed by the artist, are going like hot cakes here. And as if its artistry wasn’t enough, it also – finally – fills in the one missing era in my collection.

The Kirk homer and Piazza portrait illustrate one important point about collecting.  You should be seeking the type of memorabilia you want and envision, but always allow for delightful surprises like these.

So now it’s time for you to weigh in.  Have you kept some or all game scorecards, if you actually produced any?  Do you keep some or all of your ticket stubs?  Do you prefer enlarged autographed pictures of memorable moments in Mets’ history, as I do? Or do you prefer autographed balls, or team photos, or bobbleheads, or something else?  Do autographs matter to you or not?  Where do you display your wares?  Do you have a lot of stuff from other teams?

And if applicable, just how tacky does your wife think your collection is?

Let the memories flow!

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Steven Matz Ranked Third Best LHP Prospect http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/steven-matz-ranked-third-best-lhp-prospect.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/steven-matz-ranked-third-best-lhp-prospect.html/#comments Mon, 25 Jan 2016 11:59:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204908 Matz StevenSteven Matz has been named the third best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline in their Top 10 list. He is behind the DodgersJulio Urias (#1) and the Rays Blake Snell (#2). Matz is just 14.1 innings away from losing his prospect status.

Matz made his Major League debut on June 28th in rousing fashion against the Reds pitching 7.2 innings of two-run ball while going 3 for 3 with four RBI at the plate.

Overall, the former second round pick went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 1.234 WHIP in his first six regular season big league starts.

Here is what MLB Pipeline had to say about Matz:

It hasn’t been the most direct path for Matz, who missed nearly three years of competitive pitching coming back from injuries. The wait was worth it, as Matz pitched his way to the big leagues and even into the postseason in 2015. The further removed from injury he gets, the more the concern about his durability dissipates. Matz is the only one on this list with big league time.

A native Long Islander, Matz also made three playoff starts including Game Four of the National League Championship Series in which the Mets won 8-3 putting them in the World Series. He pitched 14.2 innings in the postseason (don’t count towards rookie eligibility) allowing six runs and striking out 13.

I was a little surprised to see him only number three on this list, definitely thought he would be number two at least. I understand being behind the projectable Urias who is still only 19-years old and has already seen some time in AAA for the Dodgers. If not for the deep rotation of the Dodgers there is a good chance he could make his Major League debut in 2016.

The stretch to me is putting Snell ahead of Matz even with him coming off a breakout 2015 performance that saw him named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. Without the injury concerns that some have with Matz I think he would have been number two.

In MLB Pipeline’s 2015 Top 10 left-handed prospect list, Matz was second only behind Urias. Steven was ranked as the 15th best prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline in 2015. Their new Top 100 list will be coming out on January 29th.

Dominic Smith Named Third Best First Base Prospect

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Mets Teammates Excited That Yoenis Cespedes Will Be Back http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mets-teammates-are-excited-yoenis-cespedes-will-be-back.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mets-teammates-are-excited-yoenis-cespedes-will-be-back.html/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2016 23:34:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204889 matz degrom

It didn’t take long for many of the Mets players to weigh in on the return of Yoenis Cespedes, who was resoundingly praised and lauded by his teammates this weekend at various events and social media.

While the Baseball Writers Association of America Awards Banquet was canceled on Saturday night because of the snowstorm, they did manage to hold a toned-down awards ceremony for those who could attend.

Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa collected their Rookie of the Year awards, while Josh Donaldson, Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta were on hand for their hardware as well.

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Sandy Alderson stole the show as always and took some jabs at Scott Boras while also poking some fun at Matt Harvey, telling the crowd he lived all the way out in SoHo and there were no flights out of the Greenwich Village Airport due to the blizzard. You can check out some great videos from Sandy, Terry Collins and a bunch of Mets players in attendance here on MLB.com.

Here’s what Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Curtis Granderson had to say about Yoenis Cespedes last night:

“You hear him get an offer somewhere else, and it’s a team you might have to play a lot, you don’t really want to face a guy like that all the time,” deGrom said. “So we’re definitely excited to have him back on our team. In the little bit of time we had him, he was impressive. So a full season is going to be a lot of fun.”

“He was so clutch,” Matz said. “I definitely think he’s intimidating. He’s a long-ball threat but at the same time he’ll get the job done and hit the ball the other way. As a pitcher, I’d be intimidated.”

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“We got a chance to experience him for 2 1/2 months last year and he did some amazing things for us,” Granderson added. “I know the city is excited to have him back and even if he could do just half of what he did last year it would definitely be a very big thing for us.”

Dan Martin of the New York Post reached out to David Wright on Saturday and the Mets captain couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for having Cespedes back.

“I liked the baseball moves we made earlier, but this is a bigger splash,” Wright said. “Yoenis is a difference-maker. You saw it after the trade at the deadline. He immediately started to carry our offense. Even though he was only around us for a short time, he had a connection with the city, the team and the fans and I’m glad for them.”

“Obviously, he genuinely wanted to come back and that’s the kind of guy you want to take the field with, someone who is willing to compromise,” Wright said. “I do know he made a point to his representatives to compromise and the team did, too.”

You could always count on David Wright to say and do the right things.

And finally, let’s give it up for Alejandro De Aza, who had the following to say on Facebook after the Cespedes signing essentially knocked him out of the starting lineup and landed him on the bench.

“Looking forward to playing alongside Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and the rest of my new Met teammates. Focus is not on individual accomplishments, it’s on winning a championship for the city of New York.”

Character. An underrated trait that runs rampant in the Mets clubhouse.

(Hee hee hee, Patriots lost.)

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MMO Fan Shot: Chasing The Clincher http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-chasing-the-clincher.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-chasing-the-clincher.html/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2016 14:00:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204871 1986 mets

An MMO Fan Shot by Mets Fan In Paradise

1986 was a great year to be a Mets fan.  Especially for me.  A couple of years out of college, I was living on my own, had a reliable car,  and a good enough job to afford the short trip from NJ to Flushing to see the Mets a couple of times a month.

After almost a decade of disappointment the Mets had returned to relevance in 1984, and in 1985 they’d stayed in the division race until the last weekend of the season.  In Spring Training 1986 manager Davey Johnson told his team they could dominate the league, and his assessment was accurate.  After spinning their wheels the first week of the season with a 2-3 start, they reeled off a club record-tying 11 straight wins and never looked back.

They were so good that the other teams had pretty much conceded the division by the end of May, and the whole summer was like one long victory tour—rolling into one town after another, roughing up pitching staffs and ruffling feathers.  They were cocky and wouldn’t back down from anyone.

The July 22nd brawl in Cincinnati and the Cooters incident in Houston were only two of the scrapes the team got into that summer.  I went to 12 games that year, including two NLCS games and the division clincher on Sept 17th.  But I had to work very hard to see the clincher.

magicnumberWith a magic number of 2, the Mets rolled into Philadelphia on September 12 needing only one win over the second place Phils to celebrate their first division title in 13 years.  I decided to motor on down the NJ Turnpike for the Friday night game to be on hand.

I’d been to that stadium before, and everyone knows the rowdy reputation of Philadelphia sports fans.  I had my cap on so I took some ribbing, but managed to avoid a more hostile confrontation—it’s a good thing I’m not much of a drinker, especially with a long drive ahead of me, or I might have ended up spending part of the night in the on-site police substation-fairly common now, but I think Veterans Stadium was ahead of their time.  The Mets lost, 6-3,  but I don’t have any personal recollection of the details.

I decided then and there to return for Saturday’s game, and made a contingency plan for Sunday, calling a fraternity brother who was from Philly and in law school there, and arranging to  crash at his place in case of another loss.  That, of course, is exactly what happened.  Mike Maddux was unable to retire a batter in the first inning Saturday, but the Mets let the lead slip away, and they were shut out the next day to complete the sweep and leave the Phillies clinging to the slimmest of hopes,

I went home, disappointed, and watched on TV as the Mets lost in St. Louis on Monday, Roger McDowell walked in the only run of the game in the 13th inning, while the Phillies whitewashed the Pirates.  The good guys finally took a step forward the next night, defeating the Cards, 4-2, to clinch a tie and set the stage for a home clincher, which I just had to attend.

September 17th was a Wednesday and I had to work. I was a claims processor at a health insurance company, the best-paying job I could find while I was trying to make it as a drummer, playing in bands and making demo tapes (that’s another story).  At lunch time I went from my workplace in Piscataway, NJ, to downtown New Brunswick, where a used record shop called the Rhythm Stick had a Ticketmaster booth. That’s how we did it in those days.

I was able to land a decent seat—it’s always easier when you’re buying only a single ticket.    I probably brought a change of clothes to work so I could drive directly into the city instead of having to stop at home, unwilling to take unnecessary chances with rush hour traffic. I brought with me the gloves and ski cap I’d used in the Rockies while on my cross-country hitchhiking trip two summers earlier.  It was cold and windy this night and I’d be exposed in a front row mezzanine box seat.

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I was disappointed to find that my favorite player, Keith Hernandez, was under the weather and Dave Magadan was starting at first base. This proved serendipitous, as he drove in Lenny Dykstra with the first run on the third of four straight third inning singles off Dennis Eckersley. Strawberry immediately followed suit to plate Backman.  This was a formula which we had used with great success all year.  With Lenny and Mookie Wilson platooning at CF/leadoff and Backman and Tim Teufel a perfect 2B/two-hole aggregate, it seemed like there were runners on base constantly for our deep batting order to drive home. And Keith, Gary, Straw, and Knight rarely let us down.

Dwight Gooden wasn’t at his sharpest, with five walks to go along with eight strikeouts and six hits allowed, but he took a 4-2 lead into the 9th, and Keith came on for defense.

Growing up in the 70s, my family attended many weekend games which were more and more sparsely attended as the competitive teams of the early part of the decade gave way to the moribund teams highlighted by the likes of Craig Swan, Lee Mazzilli, John Stearns, Lenny Randle, and Skip Lockwood.  All decent players, but you’re not winning any pennants if they’re the best you’ve got.  Attendance dwindled, and it wasn’t difficult either to buy field-level box seats or to change seats for a better location late in the game without any interference from an usher.

1986 clinchTonight was different.  As the 8th inning ended I wasn’t the only one who made his way to the field level, but the ushers were well aware of our intent and blocked each entrance with the ferocity of Cerberus guarding the gates of Hell.  Three of us rushed spontaneously at one usher, knowing that unlike the fierce three-headed dog, this warder probably wouldn’t be able to prevent all of us from getting by.  We were right.

I slipped past and made my way through the crush to the rail opposite first base.  I was thrilled to see that Keith had replaced Magadan at 1B, wanting to be on the field when it happened. (This foreshadowed the World Series, as manager John McNamara would give Bill Buckner the same opportunity in Game 6, lucky for us.) The pent-up energy of the entire crowd, over 47,000 strong, could barely be contained as Gooden navigated around a walk and a hit in the ninth.

Then came the final out, a ground ball to Backman.  Even before the ball was in Keith’s glove and the umpire’s fist had gone up signaling the out, a couple of fans had run onto the field. I wasn’t far behind, immediately ripping up a piece of turf from the edge of the outfield grass just to the right of 2B and shoving it under my jacket as I milled around with hundreds, maybe thousands of others, high-fiving and chanting, “We’re Number One!”

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I have no idea how long I stayed there before heading toward the parking lot and starting the drive home, listening to the radio postgame interviews, exhausted, ecstatic and hoarse.  The near-impossible task Pete Flynn and his grounds crew had of making the field playable in time for the next afternoon’s game has been well-documented, and that was pretty much the last celebration of its kind, as we soon got used to seeing mounted policemen lining the perimeter of the field to prevent such mayhem.

I might have been a little late for work the next day (and I definitely had no voice) but it was OK, as my supervisor was also a Mets fan.  In fact we had fun during the World Series, noting that Boston catcher Rich Gedman had drooping eyelids and was in need of a cosmetic procedure called a blepharoplasty (we paid medical claims so we were familiar with all kinds of surgeries).

I placed the turf in a shallow round pan about 14 inches across and watered and fed it, hoping it would take hold and I’d have a live memento of that night forever.  Alas, it died within a couple of months, and I now have the desiccated dirt, shot through with strands of dried grass, sitting safely in my lock box as a treasured remembrance.

Within days playoff tickets went on sale and I worked the phone for hours (718 507-TIXX) until I was able to get through and place my order for 2 NLCS games.  Like many others, I rushed home from work in order to catch the end of Game 6 a few days later, and then, unable to get World Series tickets, watched the entire Series from my home, my father joining me for Games 6 and 7, the last time we’d watch World Series games together until 2015.

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Roger Kahn wrote nostalgically of the Dodgers of the 50s, the “Boys of Summer.”  The 1986 Mets were my “Boys of Summer.” Circumstances came together to create the greatest experience a fan could have, and one I’ll never forget–my team dominating the league for the entire season, and me getting to witness much of it firsthand and up close.

Of course, all good things come to an end, and that was that team’s pinnacle.  1987 was marred by DL time for the entire rotation, between Gooden’s suspension and injuries to all the other starting pitchers. 1988 ended in disappointing fashion.  I moved to Key West in 1989 and was distanced from a lot of the turmoil of the next few years, including “the worst team money can buy.”  With many transplanted New Yorkers in South Florida, the “New York Mets Radio Network” extended down here only until the Marlins came into being, and even by 2000 other media formats weren’t well enough developed for me to have access beyond newspapers and what games were broadcast locally.

The 2015 season was the first championship season I was able to enjoy on a daily basis since 1986, and I’m sure I’m not alone in calling it my favorite season since then.  I think the presence of so many home-grown players makes it more satisfying than 2006, and we have a lot to look forward to as they develop and hopefully form the nucleus of a championship team for the next decade (Syndergaard 2016 Cy Young—you saw it here first!). I’m confident that the 30th anniversary of the great 1986 team will end  with a similar celebration. Let’s Go Mets!

I was born as the Mets were taking the field for their first Spring Training (late February, 1962) but didn’t become a fanatic until Tug McGraw issued his famous (and sarcastic) rallying cry, “Ya Gotta Believe,” in 1973. Since then I’ve bled orange and blue. I’m currently a social worker in Fort Lauderdale Fl, where I can watch the Mets nightly through the miracle of the Internet. I was close enough to Bartolo Colon to see his sweat when he made his amazing behind-the-back flip last September in Miami against the Marlins. Can’t wait to see them climb the final steps to the mountaintop in 2016, and for the next several years.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Mets Fan In Paradise. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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A Well-Deserved Salute For Sandy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/a-well-deserved-salute-for-sandy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/a-well-deserved-salute-for-sandy.html/#comments Sat, 23 Jan 2016 20:45:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204836 sandy-alderson

I’ve long been an admirer of his stoic and measured approach, his calm and patient demeanor in the face of adversity, and most of all, the confidence he exudes in his capacity to lead and forge ahead.

That he doesn’t take his marching orders from a sometimes maddening and manic fan base, but instead sticks to his convictions and trusts his exceptional acuity and instincts, sets him apart as one of the best general managers the game has ever seen.

He has a quiet demeanor that is often misunderstood and misinterpreted as being passionless, but nothing could be further from the truth. His fire burns from within.

In Sandy Alderson, the New York Mets have themselves a perfect leader who came along at the perfect time.

Leadership means devising the perfect plan and vision, finding the most efficient ways of executing those objectives, and then inspiring others to embrace and ultimately fulfill them.

The Mets are at the dawn of a new and promising era of sustainable championship caliber baseball – the likes of which the franchise has never seen.

I just wanted to extend my own personal gratitude to Sandy for taking what was once a downtrodden franchise and transforming it into the shining beacon of hope and promise that it has now become under his stewardship.

What an incredible achievement and remarkable metamorphosis. We are now the pride of New York and Major League Baseball. It’s absolutely amazing to be a Met fan right now.

I salute you, Sandy. Please get well soon.

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Nationals Offer To Yoenis Cespedes Over $100 Million http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/nationals-offer-to-yoenis-cespedes-over-100-million.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/nationals-offer-to-yoenis-cespedes-over-100-million.html/#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2016 19:55:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204573 yoenis cespedes

The Washington Nationals have made an offer to free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who first reported they were very interested in the former Met after they lost out on signing Justin Upton.

Sources tell Jon Heyman that the Nats are offering a five year deal north of $100 million that will also include some deferred compensation. Heyman emphasizes that the negotiations have now reached a serious stage, suggesting a final agreement could be close.

The Nationals are very motivated after making strong offers to both Jason Heyward and Upton and walking away with neither player. They immediately shifted their focus to Cespedes after the Detroit Tigers clinched the deal with Upton.

“The team’s offer to Cespedes is said to be for less than the Tigers gave Upton. But Nats ownership is intrigued by Cespedes, sources said.”

On Wednesday, Jim Bowden said that Cespedes was close to making a decision in the next 24-48 hours during an appearance on MLB Network Radio and he also added, “the Washington Nationals are for real.” So this could be very close to winding down.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson would only say he was still engaged with the reps for Cespedes when asked about him during a season ticket holder event at Citi Field. ”We continue to have conversations with Cespedes’ agent,” Alderson said. “But that’s all I can say at this time.”

The Mets are willing to go as far as a three-year deal, though they’ve not yet made any official offer.

Original Report

On Tuesday night, Sandy Alderson spoke to a group of season ticket holders at Citi Field and responded to questions about re-signing free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

“We continue to have conversations with Cespedes’ agent,” Alderson said. “But that’s all I can say at this time.”

The Mets remain interested in signing Cespedes, and they have let his agents at Roc Nation know they are willing to offer him a three-year deal, but no more than that. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reported that deal as three years and $60 million. Still, according to several reports, Cespedes continues to hold out for at least a a five-year contract.

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post circled back to a couple of high-level decision-makers from an NL and AL teams asking whether Cespedes had overplayed his hand. And in the wake of Chris Davis’ and Justin Upton’s deals, both now believe Cespedes will be rewarded handsomely for his patience. In other words, it’s expected Cespedes will still get a deal in excess of $100 million dollars.

John Harper of the Daily News polled a handful of baseball executives and scouts on Tuesday and they remain convinced that some team will step forward to give Cespedes a five-year deal in the $100 million range.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported yesterday, that the Washington Nationals are now showing interest in Cespedes after losing out on Justin Upton. And like the Mets and White Sox, they will only consider him on a short-term deal of three years or less. The Angels, Astros, and Braves are also in the mix at varying degrees.

Rosenthal also suggests that the Mets should bite the bullet and offer Cespedes a five-year, $120 million deal with a two-year-opt out and a ton of deferred money.

“Cespedes could claim victory and get the long-term security he wants, and the Mets would win too because the five-year term is shorter than Cespedes desires, the deferred money would lower the present-day value of the deal, and the opt-out would ensure that the outfielder stays motivated.”

He concludes that if the Mets don’t do it, some other team will.

Meanwhile, manager Terry Collins hasn’t been secretive about his desire for Sandy to bring Cespedes back. ”I don’t know where Cespedes is at contract-wise with anybody else, but I know he wants to come back to New York if he can. He’s a great player and we’d love to have him back.”

When Sandy was asked yesterday if his offseason was short on sizzle, the GM responded:

“The short answer, yes. We want sizzle and long term success. The team is better now than it was at start of 2015 season. If we get a star player and don’t win then what? What are the questions then?”

So that’s the latest for now as this long saga continues.

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Should Mets Sell High on Granderson and Re-Sign Cespedes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/should-mets-sell-high-on-granderson-and-re-sign-cespedes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/should-mets-sell-high-on-granderson-and-re-sign-cespedes.html/#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2016 16:35:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204581 curtis granderson hr

Right now, there are two people who are realistically standing in the way of Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets. No, it’s not Fred and Jeff Wilpon. It’s Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson.

Like it or not, Sandy Alderson was right when he said Cespedes isn’t a center fielder. While Cespedes grades out as an elite left fielder, he’s just not good in center. Last year, he had a -3.2 UZR and -4 DRS while playing center. For his career, his UZR in center is -12.6, and his DRS there is -17. While the Mets were willing to move him in and out of center to take advantage of platoon splits for Juan Lagares while not forcing Conforto to face lefties, it was rough at times, though it did seem to work.

However, that was over the course of three months. Cespedes’ defensive numbers in center are unsustainable over a full season. I don’t buy the argument he only needs to play there two years. He’s already established he shouldn’t be playing there now. No, if the Mets want to re-sign him, he needs to play either left or right. That begs the question, why haven’t the Mets made room for him?

Specifically, I’m asking why the Mets haven’t explored trading Granderson.  Last year, Granderson hit .259/.364/.457 with 26 homers and 70 RBI from the leadoff spot. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove in right field. On a team where everyone was dropping like flies, he played 157 games, and really, he was the only credible major league bat in the lineup for far too many stretches of time. His 5.1 WAR ranked him as a top five right fielder in all of baseball last year. He has a reasonable two years $31 million remaining on his contract. One way of looking at this is saying he’s too valuable to be traded.

Another is to say he’s at his peak value, which is the precise time you want to trade players. Granderson is a year removed from a .237/.326/.338 campaign. The year before that he hit .229/.317/.407.  He had pronounced splits last year hitting .183/.273/.286 against lefties and .280/.388/.504 against righties. His 5.1 WAR last year was the highest it had been since 2011. He’s going to be 35 on Opening Day next year.

Right now, the Mets still project to have Eric Campbell make the Opening Day roster until they sign another 1B/OF. The Mets still talk about adding another reliever. Their farm system took a big hit last year. Couldn’t trading Granderson address one, two, or all three of these needs?  Isn’t that what smart front offices do?  Don’t they trade away a player a year too early rather than a year too late?

Also keep in mind,this is a heavy left-handed hitting team. Trading Granderson and re-signing Cespedes would balance that out a bit. Isn’t this something worth exploring?

Personally, I’d like to see the Mets keep Granderson. I’m a big fan of his on and off the field. With that said, trading Granderson now may be the right thing to do. His value won’t be any higher, and the Mets have some needs to address. The Mets do not want to be paying for Granderson during his possible decline. He’ll turn 35 this spring, it might be time to trade him.

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Terry Collins Says Mets Are The Hunted Ones Now http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/terry-collins-says-mets-are-the-hunted-ones-now.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/terry-collins-says-mets-are-the-hunted-ones-now.html/#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2016 15:00:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204379 Collins Terry

Check out this interview reporter Jon Santucci conducted with Terry Collins for TC Palm.

Here are two quotes I thought were pretty fascinating. The first one is Terry talking about what the message will be in spring training after a surprising World Series run in 2015.

“There has to be a confidence,” Collins said. “That’s a good way to describe it. We’re going to continue to talk about winning and what it takes to be successful, but we’re not going to sneak up on anybody now. We were the hunters for a long time. Now we’re going to be the hunted.”

Then asked if he will miss Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy, Collins responded:

“Well, those are huge pieces. Daniel Murphy is a guy who seemed dangerous all the time. And Cespedes was a big hitter. But remember, everybody thinks we turned it around when we got Cespedes. We turned around when we got Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe and then we got Cespedes. We’ll miss them. But I still hold hope that when all is said and done, Yoenis is still out there and may pick up the phone and say this is where he wants to be.

It’s interesting that Collins is still clinging to the hope that he somehow gets Cespedes back this season. I recall reading a quote from Collins after the Mets acquired Alejandro De Aza. The topic was the new Mets offense and he said something along the lines of, “I hope we’re not done yet.” which I thought was quite revealing.

Anyway, be sure to check out the full interview here.

Mets pitchers and catchers will report on February 17 and formally work out for the first time on Feb. 19. The first full-squad workout is set for Feb. 26.

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Leave Matt Harvey Alone http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/leave-matt-harvey-alone.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/leave-matt-harvey-alone.html/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2016 16:45:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204080 2-matt-harvey-e1446435237744

The last image we have of Matt Harvey was him walking off the mound in the ninth inning of a do or die game. He was everything anyone reasonably could’ve asked him to be. Perhaps more. I thought that after that night, he would get the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong.

In a garbage take-down on The Big Lead, Stephen Douglas chastises Matt Harvey for attending a Kings game and then going to the Golden Globes. No, I’m not kidding, and apparently, neither was he. It’s completely unfair and ridiculous to criticize Harvey’s willingness to get ready for the season, and for his attending celebrity events. For starters, does anyone have any evidence that Harvey attending an event negatively impacted his ability to prepare for and/or pitch in a game?  No.

Secondly, Harvey did everything he could to get ready for the 2015 season. He did what he could to be available, healthy, and effective in the postseason.  He pushed himself farther than anyone else has ever had post-Tommy John surgery. You would think he’s forever earned the benefit of the doubt. Apparently not. Apparently, attending a Kings game with Pat Sajak means Harvey has punted on the 2016 season. The Golden Globes appearance means he’s only interested in fame and not the back-breaking work it took him to get to this point. Never mind the fact that he was in peak physical form in 2015 despite recovering from major surgery and having been out of baseball rehabbing his elbow for a full year.

Also, this article never bothers to criticize Noah Syndergaard for similar behavior. After the World Series, Thor was soaking up his new found fame. He took a picture at center ice, center court, and the end zone. He was everywhere. No one questioned his dedication. No one questioned his work ethic. No one should have. Harvey deserves the same fair treatment.

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Until such time as Harvey allows his personal life to affect his play on the field, we shouldn’t care. I’m alright with a Mets player who wants to attend a hockey game in his spare time. He’s not hurting anyone. He’s not hurting himself. He’s not throwing a potential Hall of Fame career out the window.

It’s time to lay off Matt Harvey and give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s earned it. After last year, he showed he will do whatever’s necessary to help the Mets win a World Series. He will push himself further than anyone else has pushed themselves. And afterwards, if he feels like attending a hockey game, big deal.

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Rockies In Hot Pursuit Of Gerardo Parra, Will Likely Deal Carlos Gonzalez http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/rockies-in-hot-pursuit-of-gerardo-parra-will-likely-deal-carlos-gonzalez.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/rockies-in-hot-pursuit-of-gerardo-parra-will-likely-deal-carlos-gonzalez.html/#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2016 20:18:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203894 gerardo parra

Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish is reporting that the Colorado Rockies have ramped up their efforts to sign free agent outfielder Gerardo Parra, according to industry sources. Cotillo adds that the two sides are not very close to a deal at this point, as Parra is drawing interest from other clubs, including the Nationals and Angels.

Parra put up respectable numbers last year, splitting time between the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore. He posted a combined .291/.328/.452 line in his 2015 campaign with 14 home runs, 51 RBI, 83 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

He only walked 28 times this past season and had a 4.8 walk rate, but that may have been an outlier as in his previous four seasons Parra averaged 7.3. Plus, his 15.6 K/9 was the best mark of his career.

Defensively, Parra is quite a defender who can handle himself nicely in the field. He’s won two Gold Gloves in right field, but has played a fair share of games in left field and center as well where he’s logged 186 games.

With Alex Gordon re-signing with the Kansas City Royals at four years, $72 million, and Denard Span recently agreeing on a three-year deal worth $31 million with the San Francisco Giants, the outfield market is really starting to heat up.

Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post speculates that with the Rockies in hot pursuit of Parra, it could signal that Colorado will move ahead and deal Carlos Gonzalez, perhaps for a top starting pitcher or for a top reliever and a prospect.

Saunders also reports that the Rockies are still listening to trade offers for center fielder Charlie Blackmon and left fielder Cory Dickerson. Blackmon is up for arbitration for the first time, while Dickerson is a year away from arbitration and under club control for four years.

Meanwhile the market remains soft for Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes, although that could change now. On Thursday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson weighed in on Cespedes, referring to him as a square peg and not an ideal fit for the team.

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]]> http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/rockies-in-hot-pursuit-of-gerardo-parra-will-likely-deal-carlos-gonzalez.html/feed/ 0 MMO Season Preview: Travis d’Arnaud, C http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-season-preview-travis-darnaud-c.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-season-preview-travis-darnaud-c.html/#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2016 14:30:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203844 travis darnaud

Travis d’Arnaud, C
Bats/Throws: R/R
DOB: February 10, 1989 (27 on Opening Day)
Contract: $550,000, Arb Eligible 2017, Free Agent 2020

2015 Recap

Travis d’Arnaud was probably the most underappreciated player on the Mets roster this past season. Although he missed significant time due to another freak injury, he was fantastic when he was on the field.

d’Arnaud put up gaudy offensive numbers in his 268 trips to the plate last year. He slashed.268/.340/.485 with nine home runs. Adjusting for park and league factors, that comes out to a 131 wRC+. Of all catchers who got 200 or more plate appearances, that was tied with Kyle Schwarber for second in baseball.

d’Arnaud proved that if healthy, he is in the conversation of second-best catcher in baseball behind Buster Posey. In just 67 games, d’Arnaud posted a 2.3 fWAR, which would extrapolate out to over 4.0 in a full season.

From the middle of 2014 onward, d’Arnaud has simply been on another level offensively. In 69 games after a brief stint in Triple-A, d’Arnaud slashes .272/.319/.486 with ten home runs. Over the last season’s worth of plate appearances, d’Arnaud has been an elite hitting catcher.

With the glove, d’Arnaud seemed to struggle a bit at times, mostly with throwing runners out. However, that belief was skewed by watching the masterful Salvador Perez in the World Series. However, the truth is d’Arnaud threw out a higher percentage of base stealers than Perez at 33 percent, compared to Perez’s 32 percent. That’s not to say he’s better (perhaps more runners are opting not to steal against Perez), but d’Arnaud is no slouch. And we all know how good he is at pitch framing…

He may not have gotten much of the spotlight, but d’Arnaud had an outstanding 2015.

2016 Projections

Steamer – 343 PAs, .257/.320/.444, 13 HR

Marcel – 376 PAs, .254/.320/.434, 14 HR

Both of these projections have d’Arnaud playing a half season, but only because he’s been hurt a few times over the last couple of seasons.

As with Wright, I’m not going to predict how many games d’Arnaud will play. However, I will say this: I’m still not convinced d’Arnaud is injury prone. I know that sounds crazy considering how much time he has spent on the DL, but none of his injuries have been related or signal that he’s more prone to getting hurt than the average player. He was hit by a pitch and broke his pinkie, which happens all the time when people are hit in the pinkie with a 90 mile per hour pitch. Then he was delayed by an unrelated bone bruise on his wrist, something that happens to catchers. He later hurt his elbow on a crazy slide at home plate. In 2013, he broke his foot. Before that, he partially tore a ligament in his knee while sliding. Unlike Jose Reyes, who was constantly pulling quad and hamstring muscles, none of d’Arnaud’s injuries are related. Has he been frequently hurt? Yes. Are all of his bones, tendons, and muscles throughout his entire body more prone to breaking or tearing? Highly unlikely.

Now, on to the projections. Both Marcel and Steamer, of course, include the first half of 2014, which is why the slugging percentage is so low. Considering it’s been consistently in the .480 range since coming back up from the minors that season, it’s more likely he approaches that in 2016. If he hits for that much power, he should exceed or approach 20 home runs as well.

I think going into 2016 expecting d’Arnaud to put up his insane 2015 line over a full season is a little optimistic. I’d say something around .260/.320/.480 would be a reasonable expectation for our young catcher.

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2016 Could Be A Telling Season For Brandon Nimmo http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/2016-could-be-a-telling-season-for-brandon-nimmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/2016-could-be-a-telling-season-for-brandon-nimmo.html/#comments Thu, 07 Jan 2016 15:00:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203723 brandon nimmo

Ever since he was selected in the first round of the 2011 draft, fans have been waiting patiently for the arrival of Brandon Nimmo. While he’s made progress every season, he’s yet to have that big breakout that everyone has been hoping for. This has caused some to start to losing faith in the 22-year old outfielder, but this upcoming season is what will likely be a critical one in determining what his future role is with the organization.

Nimmo is coming off one of the worst statistical seasons of his career while playing for Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas in 2015. He slashed .269/.362/.372 in 434 plate appearances with only five home runs and 16 doubles. His .734 OPS was his lowest mark in any minor league season, but it looked as if he started to figure things out towards the end of the year.

In August and September, he caught fire and posted an excellent .421 OBP and .873 OPS. He also homered during the last two games of the season while driving in three runs. This resurgence grabbed the attention of his coaches, who are still believers in his ability.

“I’ve seen this kid make some adjustments. So far, he’s responded real well to different suggestions,” Las Vegas manager Wally Backman said. “He struggled at first but we’ve seen some real improvement in the last few days. Brandon’s got a bright future ahead of him.” (Josh Jackson, Milb.com)

However, not everyone is as ecstatic about his late season production and his prospect status has taken a big hit. John Sickels of Minor League Ball says that he’s beginning to look more like a platoon player despite his ability to get on base. This has a lot to do with the fact that he has struggled immensely against lefties, but also because he has yet to hit for much power. Nimmo has just a .391 slugging percentage over his five minor league seasons.

Speaking to some scouts last week, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote that Nimmo could wind up being an upgrade over Kirk Nieuwenhuis as a lefty-hitting outfielder in the system, but that there are serious doubts over whether he can become an everyday major leaguer.

The one thing to remember about Nimmo is that he’s no stranger to overcoming adversity. His high school did not have a baseball team, and he is one of the few players ever drafted from  he state of Wyoming. Despite this, he became one of the nations’ top talents and was the 13 overall pick in the draft.

While it’s been a challenging road to get to this point, Nimmo says that his unique experience growing up has also helped him succeed and to remain focused.

“The advantages were I didn’t get burned out playing baseball,” said Nimmo, who was ranked No. 48 on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects list heading into last season. “I think that not being burned out on baseball has allowed me to really have no regrets about the business that I go and do each and every day, and I try to leave it all out on the field.”  (Evan Korn, Newsday)

Looking ahead, Antony DiComo of MLB.com says it’s doubtful that Nimmo can make a major impact in the big leagues this season. It’s rare for a rookie to produce at the sensational level that Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard did last year, he writes, but could he be in line for a huge season in Las Vegas?

This might be the year where Nimmo finally puts it all together, especially if he could avoid the nagging injuries that have plagued him the past few years. He will play a full season in an extremely favorable hitting environment after spending so most of his time playing in extreme pitchers’ parks like those at Savannah and St.Lucie, which are notorious for suppressing power.

Nimmo has always had  a great eye as well as a sound approach at the plate, which is proven by his career .381 OBP. Combine that with his athleticism and determination, and it’s easy to see why most people in the Mets’ organization are still so high on him and still believe he has a bright future ahead.

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Why Latest Mets Moves Don’t Sit Well With Me http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/why-dont-the-latest-mets-moves-sit-well-with-me.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/why-dont-the-latest-mets-moves-sit-well-with-me.html/#comments Sun, 27 Dec 2015 19:36:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203166 de aza

Like many others in Panic City, I was none too thrilled with the Mets acquisition of Alejandro De Aza last week. As I’ve looked at the roster and looked at the player, I’ve tried to wrap my brain around exactly what I was feeling and why this move bothered me the way it has.

On the surface, De Aza isn’t a bad player. He’s a complimentary player and for all intents and purposes, he is simply a replacement over Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the roster. In a vacuum, it would be hard to make the argument that De Aza over Nieuwenhuis isn’t an upgrade, because it certainly is.

If you look at the lineup as it currently stands, you don’t see any glaring holes with the exception of center field which is a virtual unknown quantity at this point. While we lost Daniel Murphy’s bat in the lineup, he has been replaced by the switch-hitting Neil Walker who has very similar offensive numbers. Murphy has a career .755 OPS to Walker’s .769. Murphy hits more doubles, but Walker hits more home runs and also improves the team defensively.

There are other questions, of course – some bigger than others. Will Lucas Duda be a more consistent middle of the order presence in 2016? Throwing error aside in Game 5, he’s become a very solid defender at first base and has averaged 28 HR and 82 RBI the past two seasons.

Will David Wright be able to stay on the field for 135-140 games? Can he still provide the offensive production we’ve come to expect from him moving forward? We will see, but now that we have Asdrubal Cabrera to play shortstop full time, it allows Wilmer Flores to slide into a super-utility role and cover third base whenever he is needed while also providing coverage at second and short when Walker and Cabrera need a day off. I’d expect to see Wilmer getting 400 or more at-bats even though he won’t have a full-time position.

Will Michael Conforto take the next step in his evolution and hit LHP as an everyday player? I think the answer will be a resounding yes. Conforto profiles as a future middle of the order bat and I don’t see any reason why he can’t bat at least .285 while hitting 20-25 home runs in 2016. He showed in Game 4 that he can crush the ball with the best of them and he’s strong enough to hit it out of Citi even when he gets fooled.

Can Travis d’Arnaud finally have that full healthy breakthrough season and avoid the DL in 2016? If the Mets need to lean heavily on Kevin Plawecki again, will his bat show some significant improvement in his second season as the backup to TDA? Will we see d’Arnaud getting some time at first base against left-handed pitchers when Duda is given the day off?

I still keep going to center field as the biggest concern, mostly because we had an opportunity to really address it this offseason and I’m not sure we resolved anything there. Which Juan Lagares will show up next season? Will it be the Lagares we saw in 2014 that earned him the contract extension, or will it be the one that regressed in 2015? Were it not for the Lagares regression in 2015, we would not have traded for Cespedes. I do understand the reasoning behind the De Aza signing – he was brought in on a one-year deal to challenge Lagares and to be able to provide some replacement player production to hold down the fort until mid-season when the Mets could determine if they needed to acquire another big bat for the postseason stretch run. In a vacuum, I get the move. In a vacuum, I understand the move. In a vacuum, it’s a move that makes sense.

So why is this move not sitting well with me?

I, like many of you that are reading this, do not believe that the team’s financial difficulties are over. We were fed the company line that when fans returned to the park, the payroll would rise accordingly. And after a World Series appearance and the prospect of defending our National League title in 2016, I guess I expected to see a more aggressive approach. If not now, then when?

I understand that baseball is a business and that businesses are in business to make money. I’m also not suggesting that we spend money just for the sake of spending money. But we basically had two main objectives this offseason and that was to improve the bullpen and address center field.

The Mets – at least so far – also opted not to significantly upgrade the bullpen with any of the top-tier options that were out there. We have our shut down closer in Jeurys Familia, but we struggled all year long to find a reliable bridge to him.

Jerry Blevins was re-signed and he was excellent in an extremely small sample size before his season ended in April. But he’s also a pitcher who had a 4.87 ERA in 2014. Josh Edgin is a big question mark after Tommy John surgery. Jenrry Mejia is out for half the season. Rafael Montero is completely unproven in the majors and untested in the bullpen. Addison Reed and his 4.01 career ERA will be returning next season and could earn $6 million in arbitration. He pitched well after being acquired, but he’s still the same player that was demoted to the minors in 2015 due to ineffectiveness and was ultimately waived by the Diamondbacks. At this point, he’s hardly a proven commodity to be our second shut down reliever. Hansel Robles pitched well, but he’s also not that proven second guy. Carlos Torres? Logan Verrett? Josh Smoker? Sean Gilmartin?

Darren , O'Day

If the team’s financial difficulties were truly behind them, wouldn’t they have gone after the top setup man on the free agent market in Darren O’Day with a little more gusto? I would like to think so. Not only has O’Day been incredibly consistent, he walks very few batters and his pitching style is a complete contrast to the Mets flame throwing starters and he would keep opposing batters off balance before yielding to the closer. The $31 million contract over four years for O’Day, shouldn’t have been a bank-breaker for a New York team with a sold out stadium, rising TV ratings, and a healthy financial situation. O’Day should have been tops on their wish list and he was well worth the risk.

Did the Mets make a run at Ryan Madson? Madson has more risk given his injury history, but he’s also highly effective (when healthy) and he could have been had for less money than O’Day. He shouldn’t have been out of the budget. The Mets weren’t even in on Joakim Soria according to reports which was another head-scratcher. He could have also been signed as a setup man without hindering the payroll budget and he would have also served as a second closer.

I don’t get it. We basically were looking to accomplish two significant goals this Winter and we seemingly tip-toed our way around it with the same financial hesitancy we’ve become so accustomed to over the last six years. This in spite of record attendance, ratings, merchandising and revenue increases.

The Mets had the opportunity to strengthen a weakness without breaking the bank or adversely impacting future payroll budgets. The Mets had the opportunity to strengthen a weakness without having to forfeit a draft pick. The Mets had the opportunity to strengthen a weakness during a 3-4 year window when our lights-out rotation is still young and very affordable.

I still feel good about the season heading into 2016. Thankfully the NL East is looking like the weakest division in the league and the Nationals haven’t made any significant improvements. We have our dominating rotation which keeps us in the hunt. We have a pretty solid lineup even though we could have done more at center field.

However, I do feel that we struck out royally (pun intended) by not acquiring one of those top available setup relievers that would have taken our bullpen from good to dangerous. Buster Olney and Jon Heyman both recently chided the Mets for lacking the aggression you typically see from any team coming off a World Series appearance.

What this offseason has shown me is that the Mets’ financial difficulties are still not a thing of the past. And as long as the Wilpons remain in charge, there’s probably no hope that will ever change. Too bad for baseball. Too bad for us.

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Looking At Where Mets Payroll Currently Stands http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/looking-at-where-mets-payroll-currently-stands.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/looking-at-where-mets-payroll-currently-stands.html/#comments Mon, 21 Dec 2015 19:00:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=202437 granderson homer wright

Is it possible that the New York Mets could essentially have their entire offseason plan wrapped up by the start of the New Year? It’s absolutely plausible.

I wanted to take a quick look at where the Mets stand now after a whirlwind December that included the acquisitions of Bartolo Colon, Jerry Blevins, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, as well as the retirement of Michael Cuddyer.

Guaranteed Contracts ($58.0 Million)

David Wright - $20.0 Million

Curtis Granderson - $16.0 Million

Asdrubal Cabrera – $8.25 Million

Bartolo Colon – $7.25 Million

Jerry Blevins – $4.0 Million

Juan Lagares - $2.5 Million

Arbitration Projections ($38.2 Million)

Neil Walker – $11.2 Million

Lucas Duda - $6.8 Million

Addison Reed – $5.7 Million

Matt Harvey – $4.7 Million

Jeurys Familia – $3.3 Million

Jenrry Mejia – $2.6 Million

Ruben Tejada – $2.5 Million

Carlos Torres – $800 K

Josh Edgin – $600 K

That amounts to $96.2 million for 14 roster spots, not including Jenrry Mejia who is suspended. If we use the major league minimum of $550 K to fill the other 11 spots, it puts the current payroll at $103 million dollars or essentially the same figure as Opening Day in 2015.

Of course, the Mets are not done yet as they still seek to add at least one more reliever, a center fielder to platoon with Juan Lagares, and possibly an outfielder/first baseman type for the bench. So suffice it to say that the 2016 Opening Day payroll should easily exceed last year’s levels. I’m guessing it will ultimately end up at around $115 Million.

Next year however, should pose quite a challenge for the Mets. Not only will Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda and Jeurys Familia be in store for huge raises, but Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores all become eligible for arbitration.

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