Mets Merized Online » time Thu, 12 Jan 2017 01:57:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A’s Sign Santiago Casilla To Two-Year Contract Thu, 12 Jan 2017 01:57:15 +0000 santiago casilla

Another relief pitcher is off the board, and this time it’s Santiago Casilla, who has signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Oakland A’s. The deal also comes with $3 million in performance bonuses, reports Jesse Sanchez of

Casilla, 36, has spent his entire 13-year career in the Bay Area for both the A’s and Giants. Last year in San Francisco, Casilla posted a 3.57 ERA over 58 innings, striking out an outstanding 10.1 batters per nine. In seven seasons with the Giants, he owned a 2.42 ERA and collected 123 saves. He has spent the last two seasons as full-time closer, stealing the job from Sergio Romo in 2014.

With the relief market drying up fast, the Mets will need to move soon if they want to pick up anyone significant.

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Carlos Beltran Offers Hitting Instruction To Jose Reyes Wed, 11 Jan 2017 01:00:24 +0000 carlos-beltran

Jose Reyes hit it off with Carlos Beltran in a batting cage, posting a video in Instagram with the caption, “You’re never too old to take advice.”

As Carlos Beltran is one of the best switch-hitters of all time, Reyes, a very good switch-hitter in his own right, is wise to accept his advice. If Beltran retires after 2017, which he has said he is planning on doing, he will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years later. Then the question becomes what hat he will wear in Cooperstown?

His two options seem to be either a Mets hat or a Royals hat. He began his career in Kansas City in 1998, and stayed there until he was traded to Houston during the 2004 season. During that span, he won the Rookie Of The Year and made one All Star appearance.

He then signed a 7-year deal with the Mets, whereupon he made five All-Star appearances, won three consecutive Gold Gloves, and earned two Silver Slugger awards. He led the Mets to the NLCS in 2006 against the Cardinals, whereupon his memory was forever tarnished when he was bested by Adam Wainwright‘s curveball.

In his career, Beltran has slashed .281/.354/.492 with 2617 hits, 421 home runs, 1,536 RBIs, 312 stolen bases, and a 70.4 WAR. Hopefully he will be enshrined with a Mets hat on, but until then, Jose Reyes should definitely listen to whatever hitting advice he has to offer.


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How Will Mets Utilize Flores In 2017? Fri, 06 Jan 2017 11:00:41 +0000 wilmer flores

One Met I am curious to see how manager Terry Collins uses this year is Wilmer Flores. Collins has always run hot-and-cold with his usage of Flores, which probably stems from GM Sandy Alderson’s public knocks of the player he unsuccessfully tried to trade in 2015.

Frankly, Flores has never gotten an opportunity to play full time, and it won’t come this year. However, there is a way to get at least 500 at-bats and not greatly infringe on the playing time of Lucas DudaNeil WalkerAsdrubal Cabrera and David Wright/Jose Reyes.

The solution is simple and stems from Flores’ best attribute – other than hitting against left-handed pitching – and that’s his versatility.

He would play first one day, second the next, shortstop the third game and third base the fourth.

Doing this requires discipline on Collins’ part, a trait he has not exhibited. If Collins were to pull this off it will accomplish the following: 1) give Flores more and consistent at-bats, and 2) provide rest for the Mets’ older and injury-prone infield.

It will be well worth it to give Walker and Wright regimented rest, and it wouldn’t hurt for Cabrera and Duda, either.

The bottom line is the projected 2017 Mets’ infield could be gone after this season and they must find out what Flores can do.

For more articles by John head over to New York Mets Report

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Phillies Could Be Interested In Jay Bruce Wed, 04 Jan 2017 17:30:22 +0000 jay-bruce

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Philadelphia Phillies are looking to add a bat to play a corner outfield position or first base. From the free agent side, the Phillies are interested in Michael Saunders and Brandon Moss. On the trade front, the Phillies could be interested in a hitter like Jay Bruce.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Phillies showed interest in obtaining Bruce. As reported by Matt Gelb for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Phillies were interested in obtaining Bruce from the Reds well before the 2016 trade deadline. With the Reds wanting to hold onto Bruce for a longer period of time to try to drive up his price, and the Phillies surprising start fizzling, any potential deal between the two teams fell apart.

With Sandy Alderson having twice traded with the Braves to acquire Kelly Johnson, the Mets have shown a willingness to deal intradivision. However, at this time it is hard to see a match between the two clubs. In previous rumors, the Mets have been said to want a major league reliever, such as Brad Brach, in exchange for Bruce.

At the moment, the Phillies do not have a strong collection of bullpen arms they can offer the Mets in exchange for Bruce outside of closer Jeanmar Gomez and setup man Hector Neris.

Furthermore, according to Rosenthal, the Phillies are not interested in moving more than a lower tier prospect in exchange for a player like Bruce. They’re looking to get a hitter at a similar price for what they gave up to get Clay Buchholz and Howie Kendrick earlier this offseason.

For his career, Bruce is a .248/.318/.467 hitter that averages 27 homers and 82 RBI per season. In 32 games played at Citizen’s Bank Park, Bruce has hit .303/.363/.566 with eight homers and 22 RBI.

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Vladimir Guerrero Heads My Official “Unofficial” HOF Ballot Tue, 03 Jan 2017 17:46:11 +0000 vladimir guerrero

It’s that time of the year again so here’s my Official Unofficial Hall of Fame Ballot for the Class of 2017. This year’s ballot wasn’t as cut and dry as you might think. There were a few players I left off simply because of the 10 man limitation, and while I’m not one of those guys who takes issue with PEDs, I do have issues with those who lie repeatedly about not using and act like douches. Still baseball is a numbers game. Anyway, without further ado, here’s my ballot:

1. Vladimir Guerrero: The first player that jumps out at me is Vladimir Guerrero, one of the most lethal sluggers of his era. From 1998 through 2010, Vlad won just one single MVP award, but he was in the conversation in everyone of those years. He walloped 449 homers in his career with a 140 OPS+ and never struck out 100 times in a season. Nine All Star selections and eight Silver Sluggers make him a no-brainer.

2. Jeff Bagwell: He has 1,500+ runs, 1,500+ RBI, 1,400 walks, a career .408 OBP and a 149 OPS+ so what’s the problem? Should have already been voted in, but got screwed by the immoral moral majority contingent in the BBWAA.

3. Ivan Rodriguez: The best defensive catcher I ever saw and it wasn’t just the 13 Gold Gloves that make Pudge so deserving. When you consider the 2,844 hits, 572 doubles, 311 homers, and seven Silver Sluggers, Pudge was the complete package behind the plate.

4. Edgar Martinez: Yes I get the whole DH thing, but I’m sorry, I can’t ignore a career .312/.418/.515 slash line and a 147 OPS+. He should have won an MVP in 1995 when he led the league with a .356 batting average, .479 OBP and 185 OPS+ while collecting 52 doubles, 29 homers and a league leading 121 runs scored.

5.  Barry Bonds: I’m burying the hatchet with this guy. He’s a big time douche bag but he’s also the best all-around talent I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. 232 walks including 120 intentional passes in one season, are you freaking shitting me? Bonds had his HOF resume carved out before he even started doping… You know all the gaudy numbers.

6. Jeff Kent: I know that many will disagree, but here we have a player who has eclipsed over a half dozen all-time marks for second basemen while playing in the vast expanses of Shea Stadium, AT&T Park and Dodger Stadium. You have everybody wanting Larry Walker ushered into the head of the class and yet Kent has over 200 more RBI and 300 more hits while playing a middle infield position. Would love to have seen what numbers Kent could have produced playing 10 years in Coors Field.

7.  Billy Wagner: Sorry, but Lee Smith and Trevor Hoffman were not better closers than Billy Wagner, I don’t care how many more saves they have. You could put those two in eventually, but Wagner has to go in first based on pure dominance and sheer shutdown stuff. With a career 2.31 ERA, 0.998 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, and 187 ERA+ few pitchers not named Mariano can touch Wagner.

8. Roger Clemens: Sorry Mets fans, but just like Barry Bonds, Clemens had his HOF ticket punched long before he started doping. Among his many incredible accomplishments, The Rocket struck out 20 batters in a game twice, led the league in ERA seven times, won 354 games, and of course seven Cy Young Awards.

9. Mike Mussina: This one is my sentimental pick. That .638 winning percentage says more about Mussina than anything else. Forget the high-ish 3.68 ERA, you try pitching 18 years in the AL East.

10. Manny Ramirez: Come on, he batted .300 11 times, amassed a whopping 1,831 RBI in his career including 165 in 1999, and he owns a .996 OPS, 154 OPS+ and oh those 555 home runs. And lets admit it… Manny Being Manny was kind of fun wasn’t it? He was also a force in the postseason.

Honorable Mentions

I wish I had room for Tim Raines, but I couldn’t convince myself that he was more deserving than the players I went with. Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer but he can wait another year. And Curt Schilling was such an appalling ass this year, he can wait until 2018 too.

Let me know what you guys think.

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Syndergaard’s Wild Card Gem Leads Top 2016 Performances Fri, 30 Dec 2016 13:30:48 +0000 noah-syndergaard-2

The New York Mets 2016 season was chock full of big time performances from a variety of players. The season fell short of our expectations but it sure was a gritty, fun and roller coaster type season to witness. Lets take a look at some of the standout performances from this past season.

Although in just his second season in the bigs, Noah Syndergaard has already found himself in numerous high pressure situations. None though was higher in 2016 than his task of attempting to navigate his team to victory in the win or go home Wild Card game.

The Mets unfortunately were unable to solve Madison Bumgarner, falling to San Francisco by a score of 3-0. Thor though would match Bumgarner for each of his innings pitched, looking purely dominant at times while at others gutting his way out of trouble for a scoreless gem. Take a look below at just some of the purely electrifying stuff that Syndergaard brought to the table on that cold October night.

Syndergaard would pitch seven innings while striking out 10 and taking the no-decision in the final game of the Mets 2016 season. Thor yet again showed New York who is the true ace of this staff.

noah syndergaard hr

Sticking with the “God of Thunder” theme, Thor showed his might yet again on May 11, 2016 at Dodger Stadium as he became the first pitcher in nine years to hit two homers in a game.

Syndergaard would crush a solo jack off of Kenta Maeda in the third inning and then later in the fifth would tag him again, but this time for a three-run bomb. Flexing his muscle in 2016, Thor would end his season with three homers in total.


The Mets were a team who seemed to either live or die by the home run in 2016. Curtis Granderson showed his might on September 17, 2016. The Grandy-man showed that he still can, hitting two extra-inning homers to propel the Mets to a 3-2 extra inning victory over the Minnesota Twins.

With the Mets trailing by a score of 2-1 in the bottom of the eleventh, Granderson would smash a homer to tie up the game and keep the team alive. The following inning, Granderson would walk off the night with another Grandy splash in what was a crazy see-saw ending to an otherwise uninspiring game.

jacob degrom

Heading back over to the pitching side, Jacob deGrom put on a heck of a performance in Philadelphia on July 17, 2016. The deGrominator navigated his way through a one-hit shutout for the first complete game of his career.

Jacob would strike out seven batters on this day while walking one as the Mets cruised to a 5-0 victory. It is performances like this that truly show just how important deGrom is to this rotation and how dominant he has the ability to be when healthy and on top of his game.

wilmer flores 6 hitsWhat better way to end the top performances of 2016 than the incredible game that Wilmer Flores had on July 3, 2016 against the World Champion Chicago Cubs. Flores would have a monster day at the plate, going 6-for-6 as the Mets completed a four-game sweep of Chicago with a 14-3 drubbing at Citi Field.

Part of those six hits included two homers and four RBI to go along with three runs scored. Flores would become only the second Met in team history to collect six hits in a game. The only other Mets player to ever do so was Edgardo Alfonzo, who accomplished the feat in 1999.

Sure 2016 did not bring another championship to Queens but it was still a hell of a season that was great to watch unfold. It was another drama filled year for a team who fought through a plethora of injuries. Next season is sure to bring great moments and hopefully more playoff excitement as Spring Training is just around the corner.

What was your top Mets performance of 2016?

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Rob Manfred Looking at Ways to Improve Pace of Play Thu, 29 Dec 2016 11:00:07 +0000 manfred-rob

Major League Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, is continuing to explore ways in which he may be able to speed up the pace of play in today’s game. The commish spoke with John Harper of the NY Daily News about the possible ways he may look to do this.

In Minor League baseball, a 20-second pitch clock is utilized to help speed up the pace of play. If a pitcher does not start his windup before this 20-second clock ticks to zero, a ball is awarded to the batter.

“The reason I like the clock is not that I’m looking to force somebody to do something, but I think it is a constant reminder of the need to move things along, and I think that’s really important in terms of dealing with the pace-of-play issues,” Manfred said.

“It’s had great results in the minor leagues. Quantitative data shows that it made the games go faster, but equally important, players don’t complain about it. They get used to it and they work within it.”

This could be a decent rule to implement to the Major League level as it is not too intrusive to changing the integrity of America’s pastime. It will help to speed things along quite a bit while upping the pressure on a pitcher in high leverage situations. No longer will they be able to stalk around the mound and compose themselves while readying to face a batter in a key moment of the game.

On the more controversial front, Manfred has explored limiting the usage of relievers.

“I don’t want to pre-judge these issues. The easiest things to deal with are dead time. How much time does it take a batter to get into the box? How much time is there between pitches? How much time does it take to effectuate a pitching change? There are lots of things around the concept of a pitching change. How quickly does the guy get in from the bullpen? How many warm-up pitches does he need?

“Those are all non-competitive things. When you get into dictating the use of a particular kind of player that affects the competition more directly, you have to go slower.”

The commissioner does not go into detail on what this may look like but it is hard not to ponder what this could mean. Could we see a minimum on how many batters a reliever must face when entering a game? Could this eliminate the lefty specialist who just comes in to face that one batter? It is interesting to think where this may go and how it effects a team’s philosophy of putting together a bullpen.

Pitching changes and pinch hitters have been the ultimate game of chess between opposing managers for years. Changing this rule would certainly be a controversial one to say the least. It though cannot be argued on the impact it may have in the change of pace in a game where at times you may see four pitching changes in just one inning.

With Manfred continually looking for ways to keep baseball up with the times, there is certain to be more changes coming. At times though it also hard not to worry at just how much change Manfred may be looking to do with our favorite game.

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MMO Interview: Hard Throwing Relief Prospect Kevin McGowan Fri, 23 Dec 2016 16:31:29 +0000 3

New York Mets right-handed pitching prospect Kevin McGowan had a breakout season after switching to a reliever. McGowan, 25, pitched to a 2.35 ERA and 1.091 WHIP in 84.1 innings over three levels. As a reliever he held opponents to a .222/.269/.349 slash line in 2016.

McGowan made 42 appearances including four spot starts after working almost exclusively as start starter the previous three seasons. He had a 0.82 ERA in 33 innings for the St. Lucie Mets before being promoted to the Binghamton Mets. He then pitched to a 3.62 ERA over 49.2 innings for the B-Mets and also made a 1.2 inning cameo with the Las Vegas 51s.

The Mets drafted McGowan in the 13th round of the 2013 draft out of Division II Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire. He went to high school about an hour away in Nashua, New Hampshire and playing baseball in the northeast is one of the topics we touch on.

McGowan saw an uptick in his fastball out of the pen sitting in the mid 90’s and topping out in the upper 90’s. He also saw improvement with the consistency of his breaking ball that helped him have a great season. He set a career high with a 8.9 K/9 and tied a career best with his 2.3 BB/9. He allowed only 70 hits and four home runs in his 84.1 innings of work in 2016.

I would expect to see Kevin get an invite to major league spring training camp this year.

MMO – First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer some questions and congrats on a great season. You had success this year in part because of a switch from starting to relieving, how did that come about?

Kevin – Probably from just trusting my stuff and throwing my fastball a lot more. Over the past season or so when I was starting I threw way more off speed then I needed to. Basically trying to be too cute. But it worked out cause for the first time in pro ball I actually had a decent breaking ball. So it paid off this season

MMO – What do you think changed to make your breaking ball more effective?

Kevin – I just never really had one. Or at least a consistent one. It took time, but I finally developed feel for the pitch so I can locate it and add and subtract velocity when I need to.

MMO – Did any specific coach in the Mets system help you make that pitch more consistent?

Kevin – My guy Phil Regan (Assistant Pitching Coordinator)! That dude always takes care of me and has always taken the time to help me out. But Marc Valdes (St.Lucie Pitching Coach) and I always worked well together and he seems to kinda know what I need to make it a better pitch for me. And I was with Glenn Abbott (B-Mets Pitching Coach) for a while this year and him and I talked a lot about how to approach pitching. A main point he would always bring up is breaking ball and my breaking ball specifically. He always wanted to make sure I kept depth with the it so it wasn’t flat. So a huge thanks to those guys.

MMO – What are you doing this offseason to get ready for the 2017 season?

Kevin – Just working out at AB athletics here in Nashua, New Hampshire. And playing golf pretty much until the snow hits. Then it’s video game season haha.

MMO – When I talked to David Roseboom he told me you were the best hitter in the B-Mets bullpen, said you had moonshot power. Any truth to this? And is it Bartolo Colon power?

Kevin – Well besides Tyler Pill. He shouldn’t count though cause he was Fullertons’ 3 hitter in college. And Idk man. Bartolo is a legend. But I if you ask my father he’ll tell you I was always a better hitter than pitcher. So batting practice is just wicked fun for me. Five o’clock hitter though for sure.

MMO – What do you think you need to improve to take the next step in your development and get closer to the big leagues?

Kevin – Just build off of last season and continue to get more consistent. Then hopefully get a chance to help out the big league club.

MMO – Growing up in Maine I know what it’s like, but can you explain to the readers about how hard it is to get baseball games/practices in up in the Northeast and some of the challenges you faced in high school because of the weather.

Kevin – Yeah it’s pretty nuts. I haven’t played nearly as much baseball as my competition just cause the weather is brutal up here. High school you had to really dress warm cause it was cold usually most of the time and couldn’t really avoid the cold. Our home field was a Triple-A stadium at one point so we at least had actual dugouts and could avoid the wind. Obviously not all high school fields are nice, so we were pretty fortunate for that.

College was even worse. Started in February and we played probably every game cause we had on a turf field. I honestly can’t remember a game getting snowed out, we played plenty of games when it was snowing. And my college has to have the worst location to play because there’s a lake right behind the field and we’re at the bottom of mountains, so it was never warm. Lots of wind.

My freshman year when we hosted regionals there was still snow behind the fences in May. I remember walking to practice in January and it was no joke -20 plus the wind. So practices when it was too cold would be in our indoor facility which was a bubble. Unfortunately it wasn’t heated well. Practice sometimes was shoveling the snow off the field. With all that being said, we had heated dugouts. Thank god. I don’t mean that to come off like I hated it cause honestly Franklin Pierce was for sure the best college experience I could ever imagine.

MMO – Who of your teammates this year, at any of your 3 stops, impressed you the most?

Kevin – I’ve always been a big Rosario guy, I think he’s the truth. So I feel like I’m never surprised with what he’s capable of. Same with Dominic Smith. Also the truth. Paul Pierce 34! It’s been fun watching those guys starting to reach their potential. And there’s still more room for them to grow which is kinda insane. Pimp C (Corey Taylor) was a lot of fun to watch too. Throws hard and doesn’t mess around. He’s always in attack mode. Ricky Knapp finally showed what I always thought he was capable of and had a sick year. Matt Oberste was hitting rockets all of the yard again.

It was good to see Boomer (David Roseboom) have the year he had. I mean when I saw him in St. Lucie he was struggling. It was great to see him turn it completely around. I think it kind shocked people. Going from that tough half in the FSL to dominating the Eastern League. He’s a high energy, weird dude so watching him get fired up as a closer was hilarious. Sewald is always nasty so when I saw him throw it was nothing surprising. He pitches with a huge chip on his shoulder and it’s great to see him continue to succeed. And of course Jeff Glenn, unreal bullpen catcher. Oh yeah Phillip Evans! Another guy I watched struggle for a bit in St. Lucie and then have an unbelievable season. Won a league batting title. That was sick to see. Pumped for him.

MMO – You must have grown up a Red Sox fan, have you changed your allegiances to the Mets?

Kevin – Oh yeah I was a Sox die hard. Papi retiring hurts though. I have pictures of him all over my room. Same with Pedro and Manny Ramirez. Those three were my idols growing up. But guys who I played with are now a part of the big league club and they seemed to have a seamless transition to the show which is awesome. So I’m always rooting for Robert GsellmanSeth LugoJosh SmokerMichael Conforto and all the guys I’ve played with. It fires me up watching them succeed. Obviously it makes me want to be a part of it. So my allegiances have changed for sure.

MMO – Thanks again man for answers and good luck next season.

Kevin – Yeah for sure.

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Is Billy Wagner A Hall Of Famer? Wed, 21 Dec 2016 12:30:50 +0000 billy wagner

A familiar name on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot is former Mets closer Billy Wagner. While he would likely wear an Astros hat on his plaque, Wagner solidified his place in Mets history as closer for the 2006-2008 teams. The 7-time All Star is certainly one of the best closers of all time, but is he HOF worthy?

If you count John Smoltz, six closers currently have a place in the Hall of Fame. Trevor Hoffman, who got 67.3% of the vote on his first ballot, seems to be on his way as well. With Mariano Rivera certainly getting inducted on his first ballot a few years from now, that makes seven full-time closers (not including Smoltz), including Hoyt Wilhelm, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, and “Goose” Rich Gossage. How does Billy Wagner stack up against them?

While they are not necessarily the best metric to gauge the value of relievers, Billy Wagner is 6th on the all time saves list with 422. In 5th place is former Mets captain John Franco with 424. It is worth noting that despite recording the most saves by a lefty all time, Franco did not make it past the first ballot, receiving only 27 votes (4.6%).

Wagner also has more saves than HOF closers Eckersley (390), Fingers (341), Gossage (310), Sutter (300), and Wilhelm (228). Ahead of him are Rivera (652), Hoffman (601), Lee Smith (478), Francisco Rodriguez (430 and counting), and Franco (424).

As you can see, Wagner has more saves than any pitcher currently in the Hall Of Fame. However, 87% of them were one-inning saves. Many of those firemen in the Hall would record three-inning saves to make a living. For example, 27% of Dennis Eckersley‘s saves were longer than one inning compared to Wagner’s 9%.

An important statistic to look at when evaluating any player’s HOF resumé is how effective they are in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Wagner, there is a big red flag here. In 11.2 playoff innings, Wagner went 1-1 with a 10.03 ERA and 1.971 WHIP.

For the Mets in the 2006 playoffs, he recorded three saves in the NLDS but blew game two of the NLCS against the Cardinals, allowing three earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. He also pitched in game six, and despite getting a no-decision in the win, he allowed another two earned runs in one inning.

During the regular season, he was much harder to hit. In 903 career innings, he sported a stellar 2.31 ERA and 0.998 WHIP. Among pitchers with more than 800 innings, his 11.9 K/9 ratio is the best all time by a longshot. Out of all the batters Wagner faced in his career, he struck out 33.2% of them. The next closest numbers are Octavio Dotel with 10.9 K/9 and Stephen Strasburg with 29% respectively.

Wagner’s 0.998 WHIP is second best all time behind Addie Joss (0.968) who pitched from 1902-1910. Barely beating Mariano Rivera‘s 1.000, that essentially means that he would allow one baserunner per inning, whether via a hit or base on balls.

The only player with a better ERA and ERA+ than Wagner (2.31, 187) is Mariano Rivera (2.21, 205). To have a FIP lower than Wagner’s 2.73, you have to be a lefty Dodger as only Clayton Kershaw and Sandy Koufax have better career marks.

A hugely important statistic when evaluating relievers is how many runners they strand. Wagner’s career mark of 82% left on base is the best all time for relievers having thrown at least 500 innings by far. Going down the list includes Rivera’s 80.5%, John Franco‘s 77.5%, Lee Smith‘s 77.1%, Rich Gossage‘s 76.9%, and Trevor Hoffman‘s 76.7%.

While Billy Wagner certainly has a strong case for the Hall of Fame statistically, many writers don’t like voting for closers nowadays because they only pitch one inning. There are certainly more ways to evaluate relievers than the statistics in this article, however the metrics outlined are certainly important.

Wagner played for the Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, and Braves in his 15-year career. After getting only 10.5% of the votes in 2016, do you think he deserves some more recognition? Comment below!

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Top Minor League Free Agents: Right-Handed Relievers Tue, 20 Dec 2016 13:30:49 +0000 al-alburquerque

The New York Mets were the only team in Major League baseball that hadn’t signed a player to a minor league deal thus far this offseason until they inked right-handed relievers Ben Rowen and Cory Burns last week.

They have lost six players to minor league free agency (Eric CampbellAndrew BarbosaJohnny MonellDomingo TapiaRoger Bernadina and Derrik Gibson), had two taken in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft (Paul Paez and Adrian Almeida) and traded Logan Verrett to the Baltimore Orioles.

Couple that with the 15 players that became minor league free agents after the year and the roughly 30 minor leaguers they released and they need some minor league depth, specifically for Binghamton and Las Vegas.

The Mets could also use a couple of low-cost options that had previous major league success.

One of the spots, despite last week’s additions, that could use more depth is the bullpen and here are a few of the best available minor league free agent right-handed relievers:

Al Alburquerque – The former Tigers reliever has struggled since his strong season in 2014 when he had a 2.51 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 for Detroit in 72 games. The 30-year old pitched in only two big league games in 2016 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and gave up one run in two innings.

He spent a majority of the 2016 in Triple-A (PCL) where he had a 3.74 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 33.2 innings. The good news is he still struck out 35 batters in that span but also walked 17. Walks have always been an issue for Alburquerque who does have a career 3.21 ERA and 7.0 H/9 in the majors.

Alburquerque is a two-pitch guy that throws a fastball and slider. The fastball velocity dip from 95/96 MPH to 91/92 MPH could certainly be a reason for his lack of success in 2016. But, you have to wonder, what Dan Warthen could do with a guy like Alburquerque who throws his slider 55-65% of the time.

Cory Rasmus – The younger brother of outfielder Colby Rasmus has pitched in the majors in parts of the last four seasons with an overall 4.17 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 8.9 K/9. His best season was in 2014 for the Angels when he produced 1.1 bWAR, allowed only 42 hits in 56 innings and struck out 57 in that time.

During the 2016 season, Rasmus pitched 24.2 innings for the Angels sporting a 5.84 ERA, 1.6 WHIP and saw his K/9 dip to a career worst 6.2. He missed three months of the season because he had core muscle surgery in July. He came back in September to pitch in five games.

Rasmus is a rare four-pitch reliever that uses his fastball (91-93 MPH) around 40% of the time, changeup 20% of the time, slider 22% and mixes in a curveball 13% of the time.

Aaron Barrett

Aaron Barrett – Should caveat this with the fact that the 28-year old reliever could miss a good chunk of the 2017 after having surgery in July on a broken elbow in his right arm. He was on the recovery path from a September 2015 Tommy John surgery when he broke his elbow.

Barrett had a much better 2015 season with the Washington Nationals than his 4.60 ERA would indicate. He had 1.19 WHIP, 5.00 SO/W, and struck out 35 batters in 29 innings. For his major league career that spans 70 innings, he has allowed only two home runs (Manny Machado and Kris Bryant).

Barrett uses two pitches to get batters out, a fastball in the mid 90’s and a slider at 86/87 MPH. He throws his slider about 40% of the time and held opponents to a .283 slugging percentage with it in 2015.

Brandon Cunniff – The 28-year old former Brave had a great finish to his 2016 season with 13 scoreless innings, 11 of them coming in the majors. Overall, he had a 4.24 ERA in 17 major league innings and a 3.25 ERA in 55.1 minor league during the 2016 season.

In his major league career, he has a 1.39 WHIP, but that also comes with 9.2 K/9. He’s also limited opponents to only 41 hits in 52 major league innings though he’s walked an alarming 31 during that span.

Cunniff has a big fastball that averaged 97 MPH last season and a slider that he throws 34% and hard at 89 MPH, sounds like a perfect fit for the Mets bullpen.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Cincinnati Reds

J.J. Hoover – To say the 2016 major league season was bad for Hoover would be a severe understatement considering he allowed 28 earned runs and nine home runs in only 18.2 innings. The 29-year old was much better in the minors though with a 3.52 ERA and struck out a whopping 50 batters in 38.2 innings.

The former Cincinnati Reds reliever had a much better 2015 season when he had a 2.94 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and held opponents to a .190 average. His biggest problem continues to be walking too many, with an alarming 5.8 BB/9 rate in 2016 and 4.2 BB/9 overall in his major league career.

Hoover uses a three-pitch mix that includes a fastball, slider and curveball. His average fastball velocity dropped from 94.12 MPH in 2015 to 92.60 MPH this past season. Possible that the workload of the three previous seasons (191 games, 198 innings) played a part in the velocity decrease.

Sam LeCure – For the first time since 2009, the 31-year old didn’t make a major league appearance during the 2016 season. He spent the entire year in the minors for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched in 31 games Triple-A including 12 starts (his first since 2011). His numbers were much better out of the bullpen with a 2.97 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and held opponents to a .252/.292/.360 slash line.

In 320.2 major league innings he has a 3.51 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.9 H/9 and has struck out 300 batters. He’s also been better against left-handed hitters in his time in the majors, holding them to a .640 OPS compared to a .726 from right-handed hitters.

LeCure throws is mostly a sinker and knuckle curve pitcher while mixing in a slider and split change as well.

Although he a bad 2016 season with the Texas Rangers, my #1 minor league free agent right-handed reliever is Shawn Tolleson. In 36.1 innings he had an unsightly 7.68 ERA (5.24 FIP though), 1.73 WHIP and allowed eight home runs.

So why do I want Tolleson? From 2014-2015 he pitched 144 innings for the Rangers with a strong 2.88 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.1 K/9 and held opponents to a .223/.288/.375 slash line. In 2015, he saved 35 games for the AL West champs and finished 10th in the AL Cy Young voting.

Tolleson throws three pitches; fastball that average 94 MPH in both 2015 and 2016, slider that he threw 6% more in 2016 and a changeup that he threw 7% less this past season.

He was also the victim of some tough luck with an abnormally high .372 BABIP against him in 2016 which suggest that he could be a good bounce back candidate.

Velocity statistics via Brooks Baseball


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NL East News: Marlins Sign Reliever Junichi Tazawa Fri, 16 Dec 2016 01:24:18 +0000 junichi tazawa

The Miami Marlins have signed right-hander reliever Junichi Tazawa to a two-year, $12 million contract according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Tazawa, 30, is coming off the possibly worst full season of his career. He had a 4.17 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and allowed nine home runs in only 49.2 innings for the Boston Red Sox. The good news is that Tazawa did strike out 9.8 per nine innings, but posted only a 0.4 bWAR, his lowest in a full season.

In seven seasons with the Red Sox he had a 3.58 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 3.31 FIP and struck out 308 batters in 312 innings.

The Marlins still seem determined to improve their bullpen after missing out on big time closers Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman.

They’ve also shown interest in Brad Ziegler and Fernando Salas, both of whom the Mets could have interest in signing as well.

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Mets Continue To Play Waiting Game With Jay Bruce Wed, 14 Dec 2016 12:17:03 +0000 sandy-alderson

Sandy Alderson updated reporters on Tuesday on the state of the team’s hot stove season, and unsurprisingly the Mets’ general manager said not much has changed since the Winter Meetings ended last week.

“Pretty much status quo,” Alderson said. “There haven’t been any free-agent signings of significance in the outfield that would get the market moving and no real trades.”

“We’ve continued to have dialogue with free-agent representatives, as well as with teams on trade possibilities. And we will continue to do so through the holidays and into January and so forth, depending on what transpires.”

Alderson is committed to trading slugger Jay Bruce to clear up the logjam the team currently has in the outfield, but is unwilling to just give him away and so he waits for the sluggish outfield market to develop. That won’t happen until Edwin Encarnacion, Juan Bautista and Mark Trumbo are off the free agent market – and there’s no sense that either of them are on the verge of signing anytime soon.

Asked if it’s possible that he could go into spring training with Bruce still with the Mets, Alderson quickly rebuffed that notion.

“There are very few trades that are made in Spring Training,” Alderson said. “There are some that are made in Spring Training. But I think the idea that you’re going to make a big deal in Spring Training would be a little unusual. But at the same time, we’ve got lots of time between now and the beginning of Spring Training as well.”

The plan for Sandy is to try and flip Bruce for a low cost reliever and to bring the team’s payroll back under its current $150 million level. But he also recognizes the need for a proven late inning reliever with a track record of success and that could become costly if he takes the path of free agency.

For now, there seems to be little buzz surrounding the Mets which should come as no surprise, considering that they are unwilling to do anything else until they can unload Jay Bruce first… So essentially they are at a complete standstill until that happens.

Meanwhile, it appears that two relievers that could help the Mets may be on the verge of coming off the market. There are some reports that Brad Ziegler and Neftali Feliz are close to signing deals.

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Should Zack Wheeler Follow the John Smoltz Model? Wed, 14 Dec 2016 11:00:18 +0000 zack wheeler

Since the 2014 season ended, Zack Wheeler has thrown exactly zero pitches in the major leagues. First, it was because he needed Tommy John surgery on the eve of the 2015 season. Then, it was because he had a series of setbacks during this rehab from said surgery throughout the 2016 season. With that, the Mets have no idea what they are going to get from Wheeler during the 2017 season.

Here is one thing you do know you are not going to get from him: 200 innings. Asking Wheeler to make 30+ starts and pitch 200 innings is unrealistic, and it is unfair. Realistically speaking, putting any expectations on him is unfair.

Quite possibly, the best thing for Wheeler for the 2017 season is to transition to the bullpen and have the Mets monitor his usage. In essence, the Mets could go into the 2017 season enacting a set of Joba Rules for Wheeler. It is a concept Sandy Alderson floated this offseason saying:

“But it may be that coming back after two years, he’s better off pitching out of the ‘pen. He might have to be careful. He might not be able to pitch back-to-back. It might have to be two innings at a time. These are all hypothetical at the moment, but I don’t see any reason to just eliminate the possibility.”

Better put, it is time to give Wheeler the John Smoltz treatment.

Back in 2000, Smoltz had missed the entire season also due to season ending Tommy John surgery. On the Jonah Keri Podcast, Smoltz stated the Atlanta Braves only wanted him to return as a closer, and because he wanted to remain a Brave, he did what was requested of him.

During his time as a closer, Smoltz stated he learned about mentally what it meant to close. Notably, Smoltz stated he did not change the way he pitched when he closed games. Smoltz focused on throwing strikes more than maxing out and trying to strike everyone out. It is notable that Smoltz was able to save 55 games in 2001, which was his first season back from Tommy John.

While Wheeler won’t be closing with the presence of Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed, there is room for him in the bullpen. Putting him in the bullpen would allow him to go out there and re-learn how to pitch in one to two inning increments. It will allow him to rebuild himself as a pitcher much in the way Smoltz had done. Wheeler could focus on throwing strikes, which has always been an issue for him, and it will allow him to mentally prepare himself to get those big outs in a game. More importantly, it presents an avenue for Wheeler to help the Mets return to the postseason and win a World Series.

What is notable about following the Smoltz model is the fact that Smoltz sees a lot of himself in Wheeler. Previously on MLB Now, Smoltz stated Wheeler was the one pitcher in the major leagues right now that most reminds him of himself. In making the comparison, Smoltz noted some factors including the repetoire and Wheeler’s use of the inverted W. Another factor for the comparison was the player’s respective injury history. The main difference between the two, aside from Smoltz being a Hall of Famer, was Smoltz’s ability to make adjustments and Smoltz’s having pitched out of the bullpen.

As we have seen, pitching out of the bullpen not only helped Smoltz become an important part of the Braves after his rehab, it also helped prolong his career. The Smoltz model is one that has proven to be successful, and it proved it is not an impediment to returning to the starting rotation. With that in mind, this could be the preferable route to reintegrating Wheeler back to this Mets team.

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Blue Jays, Rangers Have Little Interest in Bruce Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:05:52 +0000 jay-bruce

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays have minimal interest in trading for New York Mets outfielder Jay Bruce. 

The Mets continue to struggle finding a taker for the left-handed hitting Bruce and his $13 million contract for the 2017 season.

Original Report – Dec 7

According to Texas Rangers beat writer TR Sullivan on Twitter, the Mets and Rangers met today to discuss possible trades. The Mets are still trying to trade Jay Bruce who the Rangers seem to be interested in.

The Rangers have four relievers that would be phenomenal additions to the Mets bullpen, two lefties and two righties. The first lefty is former Philly Jake Diekman.

Diekman, 29, is under team control via arbitration through 2018. He has averaged 96 mph on his fastball in his career, topping out at 100.3 mph. He was very wild with the Phillies, however after being traded to the Rangers in 2015, he has pitched much better.

In 2016, Diekman went 4-2 with a 3.40 ERA. In 53 innings he struck out 59 batters and walked 26, also saving four games. His slider, which averages at 84.2 mph, would greatly benefit from Dan Warthen‘s influence.

The second Ranger lefty the Mets should check in on is 24 year-old Alex Claudio. Claudio, under team control through 2021, has been phenomenal since his call-up in 2014, posting a 2.82 ERA.

He does not strike out many batters, only 34 in 51.2 innings in 2016, however he has tremendous control as he only walked 10 batters in that span (1.7 BB/9). One big reason he doesn’t strike out many batters is that his sinker averaged only 85.4 mph on the gun and topped out at 88.7 mph in 2016. Opposing batters had a .301 BAA off that pitch, however he threw it only 55% of the time.

Batters had a much harder time squaring up his other pitches, his best of which being his changeup. He threw it 27% of the time and batters managed a mere .196 average against it. He also features a slurve which he threw 18% of the time which batters hit to a .227 clip.

With Jerry Blevins becoming expensive asking for a three-year deal, acquiring Diekman or Claudio would provide a cheap and effective alternative.

sam dyson rangers

The first righty in the Rangers bullpen is acting closer Sam Dyson. The 28 year-old righty had a great year for the Rangers, saving 38 games and recording a 2.43 ERA. In 70.1 innings he struck out 55 batters and walked 23. Mets fans might recognize him as he was traded to the Rangers by the Miami Marlins during the 2015 season.

Dyson is particularly enticing because he is under team control via arbitration through the 2020 season. He has touched 100 mph on the gun in his career, and while he has a mediocre slider, Dan Warthen‘s influence would again be beneficial to him.

Last but not least is former Brewer, Blue Jay, and Royal Jeremy Jeffress. Under team control through 2019, the 29 year-old has been extremely effective of late. Since 2013 he has saved 27 games while pitching to a 2.46 ERA, striking out 150 batters in 160.1 innings and walking 55.

He is a very consistent, effective reliever that can toss flames, averaging 95.5 mph on his fastball in his career, touching 100 mph on many occasions. His curveball is his best pitch though, as batters have hit only .168 off it in his 7-year career.

All four of these pitchers would immediately upgrade the Mets bullpen and are relatively cheap. The Rangers seem interested in Bruce, but it seems unlikely they would give up more than one of those relievers for just him. If the Mets want to acquire two of these pitchers, they might have to throw a prospect or two into the mix which they’ve said they are willing to do.

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Morning Grind: Winter Meetings Come To A Close Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:14:06 +0000 sandy-alderson-2

Sandy Alderson told reporters yesterday, that the team hopes to get payroll below the current $150 million dollar level and that could mean holding off on adding any new contracts until they could shed existing contracts – namely Jay Bruce who is set to earn $13 million. ”If you were to take what we have right now, it’s probably around $150 million. But, I don’t expect that’s where it’ll always be.”

“Payroll is an issue, but so is playing time, and we’re not configured well to allocate playing time,” Alderson continued. “There’s some things we need to do to smooth that out. I wouldn’t expect that we would go into the season with what we have, not because the payroll is too high — although that is definitely a consideration — it’s also because we don’t have the right mix at the moment and the ability to allocate playing time.”

Ideally, I believe the Mers would like to head into the season with a payroll that is roughly $135 million on Opening Day. That would give the team about $15 million to use for in-season acquisitions when needed. This is a very sound fiscal approach that I’m happy to see the team adopting.

When I think back to how things used to be, it gives me such comfort to know we now have a general manager that puts a great emphasis in keeping payroll flexible by not constraining the roster with too many bloated contracts that eventually become untradable.

jay bruce

Jay Bruce is still a Met and while the expectation was that he’d be quickly dealt, there’s good chance that Sandy Alderson leaves the Winter Meetings this afternoon with the former Reds slugger still in his pocket. It’s not for a lack of trying, but the offers for Bruce have been lackluster and a few teams have tried low-balling the Mets.

Alderson refuses to give in and give away his one true trade asset for a bag of balls and I don’t blame him. While it has been a slow developing market for power-hitting outfielders, once players like Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo are off the market, things will begin to pick up and teams will start giving Jay Bruce a second look. Patience is the key word.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros

There’s some growing buzz surrounding the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox regarding closer David Robertson, an All Star who saved 37 games last season. One person I spoke to however, was very skeptical that the two sides can get anything done unless the Mets are willing to move a pair of top organizational prospects.

I like Robertson as a 7th or 8th inning reliever, but I think it would be unwise to give up too much to get him. I have some big-time concerns over a three year decline in his strikeout rate, FIP and WHIP. His 4.6 walk rate is also a bit alarming, this is by no means an elite level reliever.

It’s one thing if we flip Jay Bruce for him, but the rebuilding White Sox have no interest in him. Trading a pair of young players like Robert Gsellman and a Gavin Cecchini is not exactly something I want to do. Keep the kids and try signing a Brad Ziegler or Koji Uehara once you move Bruce instead.

By the way, if the Mets do end up using Gsellman out of the pen, bet he puts up better peripherals and is more effective than most of the middle relievers on the market right now.

michael conforto 2

The Mets were dead serious when they said outfielder Michael Conforto was untouchable on Monday. According to a report in Newsday, a rival club made an aggressive offer for Conforto and an industry source said that the Mets refused to listen. Say that last part slowly – refused to listen.

Let’s face it, the Mets have had a tough time developing outfielders over the last 10+ years, but here’s one they value so highly they will not risk losing him and I applaud them for not being so quick to trade a future star for a quick fix for the bullpen.

That stance by the Mets gets me pretty excited over just how good the 23-year old Conforto can be this season and throughout his career. So when I see someone ask why the Mets couldn’t beat the Cubs offer and trade Conforto to the Royals for just one year of closer Wade Davis, well I get angry. And you don’t want to see me when I’m angry.

Quick Hits

1.  I don’t think I can stomach another minute of any baseball or hot stove show on SNY anchored by Andy Martino and Steve Gelbs. I just can’t take either of them seriously. One of them I can tolerate, but two at the same time? Sorry, pass me the remote.

2.  I feel the need to remind some of you that the top free agent player signed this offseason was outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Oh and by the way, it was the New York Mets that signed him. You have some people crying in their Honey Bunches of Oats over not getting Mark Melancon or Adam Eaton. Seriously, have you seen what it took to get those players either in dollars or prospects? How quickly some forget when we made deals like that and how it gutted our farm system and suffocated the franchise for over half a decade.

3.  I really hope we don’t lose relief prospect Paul Sewald this afternoon in the Rule 5 Draft, but my gut feeling tells me that he will be quickly scooped up and that he’ll have himself a solid rookie campaign. I was pretty excited to see the team starting to draft and develop their own closers and I was really looking forward to seeing Sewald break into the Mets bullpen in 2017.

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

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Orioles Showing Interest in Granderson, Not Bruce Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:27:39 +0000 jay bruce

According to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, the Baltimore Orioles have shown an interest in acquiring Curtis Granderson from the New York Mets, but they have not shown much interest in Jay Bruce.

Both Mets outfielders are on expiring deals, and both players are best suited to playing right field. Mark Trumbo was the Orioles primary right fielder last year. The All-Star hit .256/.316/.533 with 47 homers and 108 RBI. The Orioles made him a qualifying offer, which he rejected and it’s believed the Orioles are not interested in a reunion with Trumbo.

Last year, Granderson, 35, hit .237/.335/.464 with 30 homers and 59 RBI. Granderson spent most of his time in right field, but he was forced to move to center due to Yoenis Cespedes‘ quad injury and the acquisition of Bruce. He is due to make $15 million during the 2017 season.

Bruce, 30, is coming off a year where he hit .250/.309/.506 with 33 homers and 99 RBI in this time split between the Reds and the Mets. Bruce mostly struggled in his 50 games as a Met hitting just .219/.294/.391 with eight homers and 19 RBI. Despite these struggles, the Mets picked up Bruce’s $13 million team option.

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Blue Jays Making A Push For Jay Bruce Wed, 30 Nov 2016 01:06:41 +0000 jay-bruce

The Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams making a push for New York Mets outfielder Jay Bruce, sources tell Jerry Crasnick of  ”They’re in serious need of corner outfield help.”

With Yoenis Cespedes now signed, sealed and delivered, it was only a matter of time until suitors for Jay Bruce started to emerge. The Mets have more outfielders than they can shake a stick at and if the Mets can flip Bruce for a quality reliever it’s a huge win for the team. Not only they do fill a vital spot in the bullpen, but they free up some money for other needs.

Bruce, 29, was traded to the Mets from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline last August for prospects Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell. However, he struggled mightily for the Amazins before coming to life during the last week of the season, a case of too little too late.

Leading the NL in RBIs at the time he was acquired, Bruce batted just .219/.294/.391 with the Mets with only eight home runs and 19 RBIs in 187 plate appearances. He’s owed $13 million next season after which he becomes a free agent.

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Why a Five-Year Deal is Too Much for Cespedes Sun, 27 Nov 2016 14:00:41 +0000 yoenis-cespedes-550

If Yoenis Cespedes is offered a four-year deal, the Mets have absolutely no excuse not to sign him. A deal like this would likely give Cespedes an elite average annual value, and it would give the Mets a shorter-term deal that would not be too constraining over the long term.

But this is looking less and less likely by the day. It’s beginning to look like Cespedes is going to land a five-year deal from someone, and if that’s the case than the Mets should pass.

Most Mets fans probably want to see Cespedes back in orange and blue next season, no matter what the cost. However, a five-year deal for $25-30 million per season is too risky– especially if Cespedes’ production tailors off.

Mets fans have been used to the MVP-caliber production that Cespedes has put up ever since he was traded at the 2015 deadline. He’s batted .282/.348/.554 since coming to the Mets, with 48 home runs, 130 RBIs and a 140 OPS+ in 189 games. Those, indeed, are MVP-type numbers.

The only problem is, Cespedes can’t be trusted to put up those numbers on a year-to-year basis. Keep in mind that the last two years for “Yo” were both contract years– when players tend to put a little extra effort in. Before the trade, Cespedes’ career slash was  .269/.317/.473 with a 118 OPS+.

This includes a two-year stretch from 2013-14 when he had a .298 on-base percentage over 287 games. Reverting to these kinds of numbers, especially as Cespedes gets older, is not at all out of the realm of possibility. Especially on a big contract.

Declining play in the field will also be problematic for Cespedes going forward. Cespedes has posted a negative dWAR, according to Baseball Reference, in each of his first two seasons with the Mets. The team has already moved him out of center field, and these issues are not going to get any better when Cespedes is 35.

Likewise, the precedent for position players in their 30′s who get big free-agent contracts is not exactly good. Eight have received $100 million contracts in their age-31 season or later, here are the results:

Robinson Cano (2014-23): 158 games, .299/.355/.479, 25 home runs, 88 RBIs, 5.7 bWAR

Josh Hamilton (2013-17): 97 games, .255/.312/.428, 13 home runs, 49 RBIs, 1.1 bWAR*

Albert Pujols (2012-21): 144 games, .266/.325/.474, 29 home runs, 98 RBIs, 2.9 bWAR

Jayson Werth (2011-17): 123 games, .267/.358/.437, 16 home runs, 61 RBIs, 1.6 bWAR

Alex Rodriguez (2008-16): 110 games, .269/.359/.486, 22 home runs, 73 RBIs, 2.9 bWAR**

Alfonso Soriano (2007-14): 127 games, .269/.359/.486, 26 home runs, 75 RBIs, 1.0 bWAR

Carlos Lee (2007-12): 149 games, .283/.337/.466, 23 home runs, 97 RBIs, 1.4 bWAR

Jason Giambi (2002-08): 128 games, .260/.404/.521, 30 home runs, 86 RBIs, 3.1 bWAR

*Does not include missed 2016 season. Hamilton was also released with one year left on his deal.

**Does not include missed 2014 season. Rodriguez was also released with one year left on his deal.

It’s too early to draw a verdict on the Cano contract. But of the other seven, with the exception of Giambi and Lee, experienced marked drop-offs in production. And in the cases of Hamilton, Rodriguez and Soriano, the contracts became major albatrosses for their respective teams, and hampered them for years. And, given the Mets’ luck, (which let’s face it: Is a big factor in public perception) fans shouldn’t get their hopes up that one of their players will end up bucking this precedent.

We all know that the Mets aren’t the type of team to pony up big-ticket dollars for marquee free agents. If Cespedes’ deal becomes a long-term albatross a la Johan Santana, it could hamper the Mets in that respect for a long time. Four years is manageable, but five is just too much of a risk.

If the Mets had a Dodgers-style payroll system, than the risk of a five-year deal for Cespedes would be minimized greatly by ownership that doesn’t hesitate to shell out money to star free agents. But we all know this isn’t the case, and if the Cespedes deal doesn’t work out, the Mets are going to be stuck in a bad situation for a long time.

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Amazin’ Moments: Fonzie Goes Six for Six! Thu, 24 Nov 2016 16:00:30 +0000 Edgardo Alfonzo remains one of the most beloved Mets alumni, both for his post-season heroics (e.g. 3 HR’s including a ninth inning grand slam in the space of two vital 1999 playoff games against the Reds and Diamondbacks), and his role as part of the “Best Infield Ever” as dubbed by Sports Illustrated.

edgardo alfonzo white jersey

His flexibility as a player made him an invaluable asset to the team which moved him from his original spot at second base over to third, back to second upon the signing of Robin Ventura, and then to third again with the trade that brought Roberto Alomar into the fold. Despite a modicum of grousing due to all the defensive shifts, he provided consistent quality play during one of the upswing periods in Mets history.

As a batsman, Fonzie developed in almost textbook fashion before the delighted eyes of fans. Coming up, he had a reputation for a good eye at the plate, some evidence of moderate power, and the ability to make contact. Following his major league debut in 1995, the young Venezuelan worked diligently to refine his game both in the field and at the plate. By 1999, he had blossomed into one of the league’s premier middle infielders, hitting over .300 and slugging over .500 for the first time in his career. His peak game, and likely the peak offensive game by any Met, came in late August of that year as the Mets were heading toward a post-season berth under the guidance of Bobby Valentine.

The team was in Houston for a series against the Astros during their last go-round in the vast dimensions of the Astrodome. The following year, the team would move to the bandbox originally known as Enron Field (or “Ten Run Field” to fans for its propensity to produce high scoring games) and now dubbed Minute Maid Park. In stark contrast to the home run haven the Astros now inhabit, the ‘Dome was a pitcher’s dream and a slugger’s graveyard. Not only was the field characterized by expansive proportions, the roof insured that the very atmosphere itself was endowed with what batters swore was a deadening effect. But it was in this most unlikely of settings that the Mets’ version of the Fonz chose to put on perhaps the greatest display of slugging in team history.

edgardo alfonzo

Ah, 1999 was a bumper year for runs scored by the Mets as they pushed 853 across the plate, good for 5th in the league and still the club record for a single season. Even 40 year-old leadoff batter Rickey Henderson was having a renaissance year, batting over .300 for the first time since in four campaigns. On the night of August 30 of that year, the team would rack up a run tally that was impressive even by the standards of that era, blasting the Houston squad by a score of 17-1.

The key figure in the onslaught was Edgardo Alfonzo who began his evening by rocketing a solo home run his first time up to give the Mets an early lead. After the Astros were retired in order in the bottom of the first, the New Yorkers erupted for six additional runs in the next inning with Alfonzo contributing a single and a run scored in the process. He then homered in his next two at-bats registering a two-run shot in the fourth and another solo round-tripper in the sixth. After collecting his second single of the game in the eight amidst another rally, he came up for a final time in the ninth. Urged by his teammates to shoot for the elusive 4-homer mark, he banged a shot off the right field wall for a run-scoring double, missing another 4-bagger by a matter of a few feet.

All told, Fonzie had recorded 6 hits in as many at-bats including 3 HR’s and a double. In the process he set Mets club records for hits, runs, and total bases in a game as well as collecting 5 RBI. Naturally, his performance set off the stat freaks at Elias who determined that the only other player to accomplish a comparable feat was none other than Ty Cobb some 74 years prior when he also recorded a 3 homer, 1 double, 2 single game against the St. Louis Browns.

Fonzie and Cobb, Cobb and Fonzie. A rather exclusive club with one member a Met.

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Shoebox Memories: 1964 Topps Casey Teaches Kranepool Sun, 20 Nov 2016 16:30:30 +0000 casey-teaches-kranepool

As Casey Stengel was reported to say to reporters during the 1966 preseason, “We’ve got a couple of kids here, and they’re both 20 years old. In 10 years the first one, Kranepool, has a chance to be a star. In 10 years the other guy has a chance to be 30.”  The card above is card number 393 from the 1964 Topps baseball card set.  As the above quote shows, obviously Casey Stengel spent his time teaching Ed Kranepool and less time teaching the second prospect.

A member of the original 1962 Mets, Ed Kranepool made his major league debut at the age of 17 on September 22, 1962 as a late inning defensive replacement for Gil Hodges at first base.  The next day, September 23, 1962, Kranepool made his first major league start.  He played first base again, and had a double in four at bats.

Kranepool, despite being taught by Manager Casey Stengel, struggled as a rookie in 1963, batting .209 in 86 games, playing mostly right field with some games at both first and left.  In 1964 however, Stengel’s teaching must have stuck as Kranepool became the team’s regular first baseman and hit .257 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs in 420 at bats as a 19 year old, in the Old Perfessor’s last full season as Mets manager.



Playing both right field and first predominantly in 1964, Kranepool even played one game in center, handling five flyballs without issue.  The following season was 1965 and Kranepool hit a similar .253 with 10 homers and 53 RBIs and was the Mets’ representative at the All Star game, although he did not get to play in the game.   This is particularly unfortunate as Kranepool was never selected to an All Star game in the remainder of his career.

The Mets regular first baseman through 1969, Kranepool did not have a great 1969 season, hitting .238 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs.  He did contribute though, especially during the Mets 11 game winning streak that included a two-home run game against the Dodgers.  On July 8, Kranepool hit a fifth-inning home run off Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins, and had a game-winning RBI single to center in the ninth to give the Mets a 4-3 win against Chicago.  In the World Series, Kranepool contributed with a home run in game three of the series against the Baltimore Orioles.


After struggling in 1969, Kranepool lost his regular first base job to Donn Clendenon and was actually demoted to AAA in June.  For the season, Kranepool was limited to 47 at bats.  By 1971 however, Kranepool was a regular again, shuffling between first and both corner outfield positions and kept the same role through the 1977 season.  In 1973, the Mets pennant-winning season, Kranepool contributed in game five of the playoffs, driving in the first two runs of the Mets’ series clinching victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

From 1974 through 1979, Kranepool excelled as a pinch hitter.  In 1974 Kranepool set a record that still stands with the highest batting average as a pinch hitter (minimum 30 at-bats) hitting .486 in that role.  Kranepool was the last of the 1969 World Series winners still on the team in 1979, and was the last of the original 1962 Mets to play ball, retiring after the 1979 season.  No other Met in history has stayed as long with the team as Kranepool’s 18 seasons.  I can still recall the entire Stadium chanting “Eddie, Eddie” every time our beloved hero came to the plate his last few seasons.

Periods of Career

Batting Average




1962 – 1970





1971 – 1979










The franchise record holder in games played (1,853), second in at-bats (5,436); plate appearances (5,997); hits (1,418) all behind David Wright, and in the top ten in doubles (225); triples (25); home runs (118), RBIs (614); and walks (454).  Obviously Casey’s pupil was paying attention in class.  A member of the Mets Hall of Fame since 1990, Ed Kranepool has not yet been named to the Metsmerized Hall of Fame. Maybe in 2017?

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Could Alex Colome Be A Fit For The Mets Bullpen? Thu, 17 Nov 2016 16:12:10 +0000 c1s_colomepumped082215_15744217_8col

In a new ESPN Insider article, Buster Olney notes that “Rival executives expect the Rays to trade Drew Smyly or Chris Archer, as well as closer Alex Colome, who had 37 saves last season.”

Colome, 28 on Opening Day, is coming off an all-star campaign where he pitched to a 2-4 record, with a 1.91 ERA and 37 saves, which was mentioned above.

With the possibility that Jeurys Familia could miss an extended amount of time, the Mets are looking for reinforcements, and Colome could fit the bill.

After having mixed success as a starter in the beginning of his career, Colome really came into his own and flourished last year as a relief pitcher.

Colome isn’t arbitration eligible until 2018, and can become a free agent in 2021.

Photo courtesy of

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