Mets Merized Online » Venezuela http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 09 Feb 2016 19:46:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Tejada and Flores Are On The Mend http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/tejada-and-flores-are-on-the-mend.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/tejada-and-flores-are-on-the-mend.html/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:01:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205204 ruben tejada waves

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, infielders Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores are on the mend and both of them have shed wearing their walking boots.

Flores, 24, is already in Port St. Lucie and has been working out at the Mike Barwis fitness and conditioning program, writes Rubin, and he is scheduled to begin hitting this week.

Expected to take on a super utility role in 2016, Flores suffered a fractured ankle after he was hit by a pitch while playing Winter Ball in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Tejada has been working out in his native Panama, but is expected to report to PSL as early as Feb. 1 according to Rubin, more than three weeks before the actual reporting date for position-players.

Tejada, 26, suffered a broken fibula in Game 2 of the NLDS when Dodgers infielder Chase Utley tackled and upended him sliding hard three feet behind second base to break up a double play.

Tejada recently agreed to a $3 million dollar contract with the Mets for this upcoming season and avoided arbitration

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Twins Sign Wilfredo Tovar To Minor League Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/twins-sign-wilfredo-tovar-to-minor-league-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/twins-sign-wilfredo-tovar-to-minor-league-deal.html/#comments Tue, 15 Dec 2015 16:53:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=202582 Wilfredo Tovar

The Minnesota Twins have signed former Met infielder Wilfredo Tovar to a minor league deal according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com.

Tovar, 24, was outrighted by the Mets last November to make room on the 40-man roster. He was signed out of Venezuela in 2007 at the age of 16 and spent eight years in the Mets organization.

Regarded more for his defense at shortstop and second base, Tovar batted .283/.327/.356 and stole 30 bases in 102 games with Triple-A Las Vegas last season , but a concussion ended his season early.

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All You Need To Know About The International Signing Period http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-international-signing-period.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-international-signing-period.html/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 06:39:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=186023 guerrero

Today marks another holiday in amateur player acquirement if you haven’t heard. On July 2nd of every year, a signing period exists where amateur baseball players outside of the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada between the ages 16 and 23 are signed to professional contracts with teams in the MLB that range from 4 to 8 figure contracts, depending on the age, talent, and availability.

Players represent the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Cuba, as well as less likely places like Italy, Australia, Germany, and this year, France.

According to the new rules from the 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is assigned a pool of money in the seven figure range that is available to sign contracts with eligible players within the signing period that lasts from July 2nd, 2015 to June 15th, 2016.

The pools are assigned by record, in a similar sense to what the MLB draft does, with the team that has the worst record having the largest amount of money to spend. However, a team can go over their pool if they choose to sign players to contracts, but will incur large penalties, such as:

  • Any money over the sum of the pool will be taxed 100 percent.
  • In addition any team over 5-10% of their pool cannot sign individual players in the next signing period for more than $500,000.
  • If 10-15%, the team cannot sign a player for more than $300,000 in the next signing period.
  • If more than 15% the team cannot sign a player for more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods.

While these penalties are pretty steep, a team can trade for up to 150% of their allotted pool with another team to gain more money, and keep themselves out of penalties and able to spend big in the next signing period as well. Also, any signing bonuses under $10,000 are not counted towards the pool.

A majority of those that signed are trained by someone who acts as their teacher, mentor, and agent. Teams get to know the trainers and are afforded time to scout the players. Then front offices decide if the bonus demands are worth it for each player. The trainers get a cut for themselves, but the players usually get the majority of the money. Teams and players usually have deals in place 6-12 months ahead of the period, so that’s bad news if you were expecting anyone that wasn’t linked to your team.

mets academy

Mets Signing period:

For this new signing period, the Mets have a bonus pool of $2,531,300, but have two deals in place that  put them over the top by at $168,700 so far: Andres Gimenez and Gregory Guerrero

SS Gregory Guerrero B/T: R/R, Hometown: Nizao, Dominican Republic

Rankings:

Baseball America 6/30

MLB.com 17/30

Fangraphs 9/47

Shortstop Gregory Guerrero is the nephew of Former All-Star Vladimir Guerrero, and trained at the Guerrero Baseball Acadamy. While his cousin, Vlad Jr is has the spotlight in the Guerrero family due to his power and direct bloodlines, Greg is no slouch either.

A guy who is considered advanced for the Dominican class, Guerrero has an above average hit tool, and while he focuses on line drives, projects for above average to possibly plus power. As for defense, be might stick at shortstop due to his above average arm and fielding, but 3rd base would be a more likely home for him, due to below-average foot speed.

He signs with the Mets early this morning for $1.5 million dollars, which is the second highest bonus Mets have given to an amateur. He will train at the Mets Dominican Academy for the rest of this year.

SS Andres Gimenez B/T L/R Barquisimeto, Venezuela

Rankings:

Baseball America 2/30

MLB.com 15/30

Fangraphs 6/47

Mentioned less than Guerrero, but higher-ranked, Andres Gimenez was snagged early in the signing period by the Mets for a lower price than the Dominicans ranked before and after him.

Gimenez is one of the most advanced bats in the Latin American class, with contact potential rating plus. Baseball America says he could possibly hit .300 annually, with fringe-average power that could reach double-digits in homers, with quite a few doubles. In addition to that, he has above-average speed, and a chance to stick at shortstop and be an above average defender. He signed for 1.2 million dollars this morning.

These are the two headliners, but I expect more will be reported later today that aren’t in the millions. These two signings will make the Mets over pool however as stated previously, they can trade for up to $3,796,950 in pool space to avoid the penalties and participate in the 2016-2017 IFA signing period.

mets academy in boca chica dominican republic

Some questions you may have…

16? Talk about robbing the cradle!

Yeah, could you believe it? Children, who won’t be able to drink alcohol legally in the United States until 2020 are being signed to contracts worth 4-7 figures. However, before 1984 when the the age rule was imposed, known as the “Jimy Kelly” Rule, there was no age regulaton.

Jimy Kelly was a Dominican Shortstop who was signed at the age of 13 by the Blue Jays in early 1984, which inspired the rule, with MLB saying they were eliminating Child Labor after he signed.

Kelly never made it very far with the Jays, and instead burned out by 19, He couldn’t take the pressure at a young age, and wasn’t able to mature, either. He faded out of the record books, many kids from Latin America do unfortunately…

While 16 is still young, and signing players at that age doesn’t seem to give kids the opportunity to graduate High School, people have to understand, that Venezuela and the Dominican Republic are two countries that aren’t America, and school is not legally imposed in either country, nor very effective in the more common low-income neighborhoods, if at all.

Both countries are in poverty, are completely corrupt, do not have mandatory educational systems, and Venezuela is especially dangerous on top of it. Furthermore, a majority of the kids aren’t concerned about their education, and instead are trying to put their mother and family in a home, and food on the table.

While thinking that this could be “exploitation”, think about the fact that trainers take in a lot of these kids and give them homes, food, and the ability to house and feed their family based on their physical gifts. Academies like Guerrero’s, also enroll their children into schooling for money management, english, geography, and other skills. Some professional organizations, like our Mets give further opportunities for education, when players are at the academy, as well as english classes, and at least while Omar Minaya was involved, their education was paid for by the team.

Why no Vlad (Jr.)? I’m Sad!

While the Mets aren’t signing Top International prospect Vlad Guerrero Jr, they were hot after him, and there was serious mutual interest. However, the Blue Jays used their entire pool and then some to blow the Mets’ offer out of the water, and it was something Vlad couldn’t refuse. However, Gregory and Andres are both more advanced bats when it comes to contact, and neither are mere consolation prizes as players.

Why is Andres Gimenez rated higher than Guerrero but receiving less?

Gimenez is from Venezuela, where it is harder to access him due to Venezuela’s complete and utter turmoil, and US’s sanctions against Venezuela makes it harder for scouts to travel to Venezuela. That lowers the cost, In addition, families usually take lower cost deals that are guaranteed and early to get money and leave Venezuela.

Highest Amateur IFA Bonuses in Mets’ History Prior to this Signing Period

1.     SS Amed Rosario – $1,750,000 (2012-13)

2.     OF Fernando Martinez – $1,400,000 (2005-06)

3.     LHP Juan Urbina – $1,200,000 (2009-10)

4.     SS Kenny Hernandez – $1,000,000 (2014-2015)

5.     C Jose Garcia – $800,000 (2011-12)

6.     C Francisco Pena – $750,000 (2006-07)

7.     OF Ricardo Cespedes – $725,000 (2013-14)

8.     SS Wilmer Flores – $700,000 (2007-08)

9.     RHP Deolis Guerra – $700,000 (2005-06)

10.  C Ali Sanchez – $690,000 (2013-14)

Have a question? Leave it in the Comment Section!

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Could K-Rod Return To Queens? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/could-k-rod-return-to-queens.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/could-k-rod-return-to-queens.html/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=158415 francisco rodriguez

Francisco Rodriguez, better known as K-Rod, pitched two-plus seasons for the Mets from 2009-2011 before being traded to the Brewers. In his time as a Met the fireballing right-hander experienced ups and downs both on and off the mound. According to Marc Carig of Newsday, that’s left the veteran reliever feeling like he has something left to prove to the people of New York.

Rodriguez, 32, said he hopes to “prove something to myself” by returning to the Mets, who signed him to a three-year, $37 million deal before the 2009 season before trading him during the 2011 campaign.

For the second straight off-season, the Mets entertained the idea of bringing back the Venezuela native, even offering him a major-league deal this past winter. When the Brewers trumped the Mets offer he returned to Milwaukee, and has had a very good season, tossing 30.1 innings, with a 2.08 ERA to go along with 19 saves and a K/9 north of 10.

However, all is not lost in regards to a reunion with his former club.

“I always keep my mind open,” Rodriguez said Wednesday. “I do really want to have the opportunity once again to come back here.”

(Photo credit: MLB.com)

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Lessons In Latin America: A Brief Venezuelan History http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/lessons-in-latin-america-a-brief-venezuelan-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/lessons-in-latin-america-a-brief-venezuelan-history.html/#comments Sun, 02 Feb 2014 14:00:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139689 miguel cabrera

While Cuban and Mexican baseball have been the forefront of baseball pioneering between spreading the sport and creating the Leagues, their stance is nothing in present-day Major League Baseball compared to both the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. As of April 1st in 2013, Venezuelans represented the second-highest number of foreign-born players in the Major Leagues other than Dominicans at 63. Venezuela, however, has turned in year in and year out some of the most talented players in the Major Leagues, including the current Most Valuable Player for 2 years in a row, Miguel Cabrera.

There are, once again, arguments about the origins of Venezuelan baseball, with a study from the University of Florida saying that students brought it back from America in 1895 after going to America and learning of the sport, while Milton Jamail (Book, Venezuelan Bust, Baseball Boom) says that it came from a Cuban Cigar company that established itself in 1890. On May 23rd, 1895, El Caracas Base Ball Club played the first Venezuelan baseball game as a team, splitting into two teams and being publicly photographed by the Venezuelan press. Either way, Venezuelans became captured by the sport by the early 1900’s.

In the early 1900’s, baseball in Venezuela began picking up steam, and teams were created throughout the country, and forming its own league by 1927. Those leagues still exist, creating new havens for players to go to such as previously stated Cuban Star, Martin Dihigo to go and play when America had not been as friendly as it should have been to darker-skinned players.

Alex Carrasquel was the first Venezuelan in the Major Leagues. He was a white Venezuelan signed by “Papa” Joe Cambria (Who was mentioned for nearly kidnapping players in the Previous Cuban articles) to play for the Washington Senators. Carrasquel pitched as a reliever and then fled to Mexico for a better wage as a part of Jorge Pasquel’s attempt to create an impressive Mexican league. While players were usually suspended because of Commissioner Happy Chandler created a law to deter players, Carrasquel’s sentence was reduced, and he went on to pitch a couple more years in the Major Leagues.

venezuela baseball

Almost 300 Venezuelans have come up since Alex Carrasquel, such as notable stars, Luis Aparicio, Omar Vizquel, Dave Concepcion, Bobby Abreu, and our own Johan Santana, and more Venezuelan players are added to team’s systems each year.

Now, Venezuela is host, not only to a winter-league haven to Minor and Major stars in the MLB, but to a host of Academies where minor-leaguers are developed. But, while 28 out of 30 Major League teams once held Academies in Venezuela, only 5 different academies remain for players as of now because of the dangers of the country as a whole.

The Academies that once stood affiliated with Major League teams were facilities for players signed as young as 16, (or sometimes even younger if not signed and just training) to come and play baseball, and be trained by coaches placed there by the organization. After these players were deemed ready, they would be sent to America to play in the next phase of the Minor Leagues.

Now they have been sent to the training academies that have sprouted up throughout the Dominican Republic.

Presented By Diehards

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Allan Dykstra Is Tearing It Up In Venezuela Winter League http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/allan-dykstra-is-tearing-it-up-in-venezuela-winter-league.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/allan-dykstra-is-tearing-it-up-in-venezuela-winter-league.html/#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2013 03:50:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132943 Allan Dykstra rips one.

Allan Dykstra is playing winter ball in Venezuela with the Magallanes Navigators and is tearing up the league batting .412/.512/.559 in his first 12 games of the season. He is currently on a seven-game hitting streak and has hit safely in all but one of his 12 games with two doubles and a home run.

Fresh off winning the 2013 Sterling Player of the Year award, when he hit .274/.436/.503 with 21 HR’s and 82 RBI’s in 372 at bats, Dykstra is highly motivated and is preparing himself for a solid start at Triple-A Vegas and a possible major league debut in 2014.

With first base a huge issue on the major league roster, Dykstra is giving the Mets front office a reason to look his way as he continues to flatten baseballs.

Sandy Alderson praised his approach at the end of the season saying, “He has had a great season, and he has approached the game, offensively, the way the organization hopes to approach the game at the major-league level. I’m hopeful that he can be rewarded for that.”

There’s no telling if he may be the answer at first base in the future, but he’s certainly giving the Mets and fans cause to be hopeful.

(Photo Credit: Gordon Donovan)

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Outfield Prospect Vicente Lupo Shares His Journey With MMO http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/outfield-prospect-vicente-lupo-shares-his-journey-with-mmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/outfield-prospect-vicente-lupo-shares-his-journey-with-mmo.html/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2013 16:07:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131519 Vicente-Lupo-Bryan-Greene

When signing a young player from an international market, you never really know what you will get.  They haven’t gotten a lot of fanfare like most of the players that come straight from the draft out of college and high school. Most fans do not hear much about international ballplayers until years later if they are lucky to establish themselves as legit prospects as they advance through the minor league system.

So understanding the journey that these players face is a bit difficult to comprehend, but very interesting when they share their own unique stories.  Coming from another country, not knowing the language and trying to adapt to a new culture is always the most difficult part of their journey, but playing baseball is the easy part.

When I asked Mets outfield prospect Vicente Lupo, if it was an easy transition to adapt to a new culture, he said, “It was not difficult to adapt to the United States,  but like everything else, it’s a process of adaptation, it’s the culture and language among many other things that are different.”

Lupo also continued to share about his family and being away from them for so long and how that also is a part of the transitioning and accepting of following his dreams, “I miss my family at times, but when I chose to play professional baseball, I knew it would be one of the sacrifices I had to make.”

The Mets signed Lupo at the age of 16 out of his native land of Venezuela in July, 2010.  He was then sent to the Dominican Summer League and in 49 games he batted .197, with 21 runs, 7 doubles, 5 home runs in a 132 at bats.  In 2012, he remained in the DSL and in 65 games he batted .343, 58 runs, 18 doubles, 3 triples, 10 home runs, 45 RBI’s, .500 OBP, and .608 SLG in 204 at bats.  Clearly the power hitting outfielder showed what the Mets saw in him with a great second season in pro ball.  But in 2013, he would take a step backward, but it was mostly due to an injury he suffered to his left wrist which limited him to only 37 games. In that span, he batted .220, with 13 runs, 4 home runs in 109 at bats.

Lupo has a lot of talent and it showed in 2012.  The next step is to prove that he can produce in 2014 as he has shown prior to his injury.

This interview was originally conducted in Spanish, but I translated it for publication on MMO. Another talented athlete for the fans to get to know:

David – While growing up in Caracas, Venezuela; who introduced you to the game of baseball?

Vicente - I was 10 years old when my dad told me, “Son do you want to play baseball,” and I said yes and I was very happy. Today I thank God because I am in professional baseball, but the thought from my parents was to play baseball and to grow healthy.

David – Who was your favorite player growing up and did you model your game after him?

Vicente – Really, I always like to be a home run hitter and hit the ball hard.  I liked how Magglio Ordonez played and he was my favorite player.

David – Which part of your game do you feel is your strongest offensively; hitting for average or hitting for power?

Vicente - I have power and I know I can hit the ball hard, but it depends on the situation of the game and it’s the situation I want to be in, like moving a runner over by hitting the ball or with a sacrifice fly.

David – Which position in the outfield do you prefer to play?

Vicente - I like to play outfield, I don’t have a favorite position, but I have always liked Center Field.

David – Is there anything in your approach to the game that you feel you need to improve on?

Vicente - Since I started playing professional baseball, I have been making changes and improving.  I think I should continue to work on all the areas because we can never stop learning.

David – Do you feel you are ready to make the jump to Brooklyn or beyond?

Vicente – I feel confident that I can play where ever they send me, but they will know where I need to be and where ever they send me to play I want to do the best possible.

David – Do you have a regular workout routine or do you follow the organizations workout regimen?

Vicente – Before I start the daily workout that the Mets indicate during the season, I have a specific routine, and it’s what gives me confidence and it helps me to feel good and in shape every day.

David – Do you want to share anything with the Mets fans?

Vicente – I send a great hello to all the fans and many thanks for the huge support. I hope they remain that way always.

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MMO wants to thank Vicente for taking the time to talk with us and share a little but about his journey. Lupo is another player in the line of many I have chatted with that are just living out their dream of one day playing on the biggest baseball stage in the world.  I am thankful that they would allow me to share their stories with the great Mets fans that read this site.  Vicente Lupo is another great talent that the Mets were lucky to get their hands on and from what I continue to see, he isn’t alone.

(Photo Credit: Bryan Green)

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MMO Exclusive With Edgardo Alfonzo: “I Think It’s Going To Be A Great Future” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/egardo-alfonzo-i-think-its-going-to-be-a-great-future.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/egardo-alfonzo-i-think-its-going-to-be-a-great-future.html/#comments Mon, 23 Sep 2013 14:40:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129401 wilmer flores

As the 2013 season draws to a close for the New York Mets, what can be taken away from their fifth-straight losing season is the emergence of a number of young talents ranging from the pitching mound to the bullpen; from home plate, to centerfield.

Met-Legend Edgardo Alfonzo was once an up-and-coming prospect himself, becoming a premiere bat and a defensive wonder during the Amazin’s turn-of-the-century stretch of October runs from 1999-2000.

When I asked about the talented youth at the major league level today, the 40-year old former infielder had nothing but positive things to say.

“They have a bunch of new guys,” said Alfonzo when asked about the arrival of several prospects in Flushing. “I think it’s going to be a great future.”

edgardo alfonzo

When getting into specifics, Alfonzo said he is looking forward to seeing how the young pitching develops, however stressed the need to posses confidence in order to be successful.

“The pitching staff is going to be amazing,” said Alfonzo. “The longer they get to learn the game and have the confidence, I think it is going to be good.”

On the offensive side of the diamond, Alfonzo spoke primarily about his fellow Venezuelan-native Wilmer Flores, keeping with the theme of confidence at the major-league level across the board for any blossoming talent.

“I like Flores because I have seen him play and I know the kind of talent he has,” said Alfonzo. “When he gets that confidence at the major-league level it is going to be good for him.”

What has remained uncertain about Flores is his position with the team in the years to come. Alfonzo says that remains to be seen, given the wild uncertainty of trying to predict the future in Major League Baseball.

“I see him being at first base or second base, or even at third, you never know; you never know,” said Alfonzo. “This game is so weird that you don’t understand. You just have to be there and they will make a decision.”

wilmer flores

That said, if it were up to him, Alfonzo would personally put the young talent at second.

“If I were the manager today, I would say Flores will play second base,” said Alfonzo. “He needs to work and get back to that position the way he’s supposed to, because this is a young guy; he has power, and like I said, once he gets that confidence, I think he’s going to be fine.

As a youngster on a team of primarily veterans in their prime years, it took Alfonzo a pair of seasons to get his offensive game going before having a breakout year in 1997. This season has shown that some of their offensive prospects have the talent, but may take some time to become comfortable in the major-leagues.

wheeler harvey

“There’s a bunch of guys,” said Alfonzo when asked about anyone in particular he believes will have success at the major-league level. “I’m not going to just pick one guy. I talk about Flores because I have known him since Venezuela, but the pitching man, it’s going to be great.”

They come from far and wide: Harvey drafted out of the Constitution State. Wheeler reeled in from the West Coast; their backstop in Travis d’Arnaud acquired from North of the Border. A 24-year old defensive angel in the outfield in Juan Lagares hailing from the D.R., and the long-awaited Wilmer Flores originating in Venezuela.

They headline an ever-deepening pool of young and talented ballplayers assembling at Citi Field. Their presence marks both the end of the “future” and the commencement of the long-awaited present Mets fans have so desperately yearned for for seven seasons.

the future

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Flores Could Be Heading To DL With A “Twisted” Ankle http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/flores-could-be-heading-to-dl-with-a-twisted-ankle.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/flores-could-be-heading-to-dl-with-a-twisted-ankle.html/#comments Wed, 14 Aug 2013 02:08:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=126971 wilmer flores mets

After injuring his ankle in last night’s game, Terry Collins just said that Wilmer Flores’ right ankle is worse today than it was last night.

Collins said they will wait a day or two before making a final decision, but Flores could be heading to the DL with a ‘twisted” ankle…

He is day to day now and Flores is limping, but they will hope for the best…

Unbelievable, we have the worst luck….

Original Post

Terry Collins said there’s no chance when asked if he will use Wilmer Flores in the outfield, according to Adam Rubin.

“Is he strictly an infielder going forward?” a reporter asked.  ”Yes,” Collins said.

As for using Flores at first base:

“We have too many guys there. To move him back to second, I don’t think is a big deal. This kid in the past has played shortstop and gone to winter ball and played third or short or second. You’d like to keep him in a comfort zone as best you can.”

Collins said he plans to give Flores a look at second base by the end of the season.

“Still, I think it’s important to see how he plays when he gets an opportunity to play second base, see how he handles it, so we can have a better judgment of whether or not we think he can play the middle of the infield at the major league level.”

Flores made a great diving play toward the line last night and quickly jumped back up in time to fire a throw to first base to get the runner out by a step.

In that one play he debunked the myth that he can’t field his position. The sarcasm was overflowing on Twitter after Flores ranged wide to his right like that, speared the liner and jumped back up and showed off his strong and accurate arm.

Oh, and he did that with a sore ankle that had to be taped up…

So much for the so-called internet experts and “baseball people”….

There’s a lot of garbage being spewed out there on sites much larger than this one…. Don’t believe everything you read and it’s okay to believe your eyes sometimes…

Original Post

Congratulations to Wilmer Flores who walloped his first major-league home run on Sunday as the Mets beat the Diamondbacks 9-5.

Flores extended his streak to five straight games with an RBI and also tied the franchise record for most runs batted in with nine in his first six major league appearances. It’s shaping up to be one of the best debuts for a Mets position player in franchise history.

Flores went 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored today as he wrapped up an impressive one week debut. What stuck out the most for me was his ability to barrel up on pitches that were off the plate and make solid contact. It’s quite impressive that in 23 at-bats, Flores has only struck out once while drawing two walks. I loved watching him come back from an 0-2 count and take the walk on Friday. We have something very special here… To see this kind of composure in a 22-year old rookie bodes well for his future success.

Defensively, after a case of the jitters in his first game, Flores has fielded his position well as Terry Collins pointed out today.

 “He’s done fine. He’s made a couple of nice plays to his left, been pretty good,” Collins said. “ He made a nice play on a hard hit ball to his left. He’s done fine. He is not David Wright, but we are not looking for that. We are just looking for him to make the routine play and he has made the routine play.”

While Collins intends to play Flores at second base in the upcoming Dodgers series, he says his bat is definitely one that profiles best at a corner position – something I’ve been hammering for a long while to those who say he doesn’t have enough power to be a first baseman. Bull…

“We’re going to try to play him a game at second base, but the way he swings the bat, you look down the road in the future, and mostly likely he’s going to be on the corner — because he’s going to be a run-producing guy,” Collins said. “But I do know we want to see him at second.”

It was quite the week for Flores who has had scouts excited ever since signing with the Mets as a 16-years old free agent from Venezuela. It looks like all the hype was justified and Flores is looking more and more like the franchise player many envisioned him to be, with every sweet swing of his bat.

 

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Marlon Byrd: “I Love This Organization And I’d Love To Stay” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/marlon-byrd-i-love-this-organization-and-id-love-to-stay.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/marlon-byrd-i-love-this-organization-and-id-love-to-stay.html/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2013 13:53:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124439 byrd auto

Marlon Byrd checks in with MMO to talk about his experience playing for the Mets, how he’s bounced back from his 50-game PEDs suspension, his time in the Mexican League, if he thinks he’ll be traded and how to carry the momentum into the second half of the season.

MMO: David mentioned before yesterday’s game that it’s been great having you on this team for your presence on and off the field, especially for the younger guys. How have you felt about your time with the Mets so far?

MB: I’m just having a great time. This is a great group of guys and I was glad to make the team out of Spring Training. This great organization gave me a great opportunity and I’m just trying to reward them with good play. Like I said before, great group of guys so it’s easy to fit in and it’s been easy to work with a lot of these young guys. This team’s going to be good very soon.

MMO: Many people were skeptical about how you’d perform this year after having a down year last year. What’s been the key for you bouncing back this year?

MB: Just work, getting better. I remember after last year and my positive test, any numbers that I put up now or anything good, people are going to be skeptical. People are going to make comments. It’s part of the game. There’s nothing I can do. I made my mistake last year so I try to move on because I lived through it. It’s one of those things where I continue to work and try to get better and hopefully put together good seasons.

byrd hr

MMO: You’ve made some recent comments about how playing in the Mexican league has rejuvenated your love for baseball. What was your experience like down there?

MB: It was different down there. I had a great time. I love Culiacán, living in a different country, learning a different culture, learning a different language. At the same time, you’re a foreign player. You start learning about how it is for the guys from the Dominican, Venezuela, and Japanese players to come to the States and play on foreign soil. It’s one of those things where, when I finished playing, I really appreciated Major League Baseball and I was excited to get back.

MMO: You’re no stranger to this business at this point in your career. With your production so far this year, do you suspect there’s a chance you might be traded to a contending team who needs another power bat in the lineup?

MB: That’s a part of the business. Sandy Alderson’s going to do anything possible to make this organization the best it can be. That could be keeping me or trading me for some pieces down the road. It’s one of those things where I need to keep producing so I can make his job a little bit easier. If he does want to trade me, he can get some key pieces back instead of just getting rid of me for no reason. Again, it’s part of the business. I’ve been around long enough. I’ve been traded. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I love this organization and I’d love to stay.

byrd  hr 2

MMO: What’s going to need to happen to carry over this momentum the team’s had into the second half of the season?

MB: Stay healthy. Our pitchers, our bullpen has been beat up, but they’ve done a great job this year. They’ve pitched a lot of innings and made a lot of appearances. Keeping our starting pitching healthy too; having our youngster, Zack Wheeler, really blossom, learn and get better while he’s here and keep the offense consistent. You know, we hit a low point around May and really weren’t hitting the ball like we wanted to. If we have those type of runs, we need to shorten them—maybe three or four days long and not two weeks long. If we do that and stay consistent, we’ll be fine.

MMO wants to thank Marlon Byrd for taking some time out of his big day to talk to us. Also thanks to Jay Horwitz, Shannon Forde and the New York Mets for all the hook-ups these last three weeks. We appreciate all you do for us…. Joe D.

addicted to mets button

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Did We Mention Josh Satin Had Three Hits On Sunday? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/did-we-mention-josh-satin-had-three-hits-on-sunday.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/did-we-mention-josh-satin-had-three-hits-on-sunday.html/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 16:42:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124160 josh satin

ALL HAIL!!!

After riding the pine for two games since the return of Ike Davis from Triple-A Las Vegas, Josh Satin was inserted into Sunday’s lineup at the last minute after Brewers decided to start Tom Gorzelanny instead of their originally announced starter. Satin didn’t miss a beat and continued where he left off going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a single to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

Bravo.

Satin is now batting .382 with an on-base percentage of .485 and a slugging percentage of .600 in 66 plate appearances. Of course there’s no way he will keep up that torrid pace, but wow…

Terry Collins, who still insists he will not platoon Satin with Davis (although how does he explain yesterday?), says he will find ways to get his bat into the lineup even if it means getting some reps in the outfield. Satin has played just two Triple-A games in the outfield, but also played in the outfield for Venezuela during winter ball, so he’s not a stranger there. The guys is as athletic and versatile a player as you can find.

“I feel like I could do it,” Satin said. “I am willing to do whatever I can to keep playing.”

Collins also suggested that Satin would also get some time at second base. As I wrote a few times in the last few weeks, second base is Satin’s natural position. He was drafted as a second baseman and was selected as an All Star on three occasions at the position.

Satin has said and done all the right things with regards to Davis’ return and told the Daily News that he “has no hard feelings” and describes his relationship with Ike as “being very close friends”, dating back to their time playing against each other in college. ”I love Ike,” Satin said. “I am really happy he’s back.”

This is a good guy… A talented guy… And someone who can be a very productive piece to our puzzle… Don’t be scared off by his age. Satin has always hit at every level and has been an All Star in every year of his professional career.

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Mets Sign SS Yeffry de Aza From the Dominican Republic http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/mets-sign-ss-yeffry-de-aza-from-the-domican-republic.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/mets-sign-ss-yeffry-de-aza-from-the-domican-republic.html/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 16:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=123604 DSL Mets

12:04pm: The Mets have made it official by announcing they’ve signed Yeffry de Aza for $475,000. Some scouts feel he’ll end up transitioning over to second base.

Here’s what Badler has to say about the Dominican shortstop:

He’s 6 feet, 170 pounds with average speed, solid hands and an average to above-average arm. He’s earned praise from scouts for being a hard-nosed, high-energy player.

11:31am: Ben Badler reports the Mets have also come to terms with right-handed pitcher, Luis Silva. He is also from Venezuela. The two sides have agreed to a deal worth $275,000.

Here’s Badler’s description of the righty:

Silva, 16, is 6 feet, 170 pounds with long arms, a high-waisted frame and a loose delivery. He throws strikes and generates sink on his fastball, which he can run up to the low-90s at times. He also throws a mid-70s breaking ball and a solid changeup for his age. Silva trained with Julio Bolivar.

The Mets have now spend $965,000 of their $2,664,600 international pool.

Original Post 11:06 AM:

Today marks the beginning of teams being able to sign international free agents, and the Mets have struck today with Venezuelan catcher, Ali Sanchez. New York has been tied to Sanchez for over a week now, and Ben Badler of Baseball America was the first to report the agreement.

In previous articles, Badler ranked Sanchez the 25th best international prospect in this year’s class, and also ranked him as the second-best catcher. The Mets agreed with the 16-year-old for $690,000.

Here’s what Badler had to say about Sanchez in today’s article reporting the agreement:

Sanchez, 16, is 6 feet, 180 pounds with good catch-and-throw skills, quick feet and good hands. Scouts highest on him have been impressed with his ability to hit in games by staying inside the ball with a contact-oriented swing from the right side of the plate. Sanchez has traveled to the Dominican Republic to play in the International Prospect League and trains with Yhonson Lopez.

The Mets have also been tied to shortstop Luis Carpio, but won’t be able to sign him until at least July 11th because he’s still only 15-years-old.

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Mets Targeting A Pair Of Top International Prospects http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/mets-targeting-a-pair-of-top-international-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/mets-targeting-a-pair-of-top-international-prospects.html/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 15:18:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=123301 BaseballTurf

The international signing period for MLB teams starts on July 2nd, which is this upcoming Tuesday. Once that day comes, teams will be able to sign 16-year-old international players they’ve been evaluating. Ben Badler of Baseball America breaks down the top 30 players today. He’s pinning the Mets as targeting catcher Ali Sanchez and shortstop Luis Carpio.

Sanchez ranks as the 25th-best international prospect on this list, but Badler says he’s a solid second choice after Jose Herrera when it comes to catchers. The backstop hails from Venezuela, and stands at 6′ tall and 180 lbs. He already has some international playing experience; he’s participated in the 2011 Pan American Championship for Venezuela, and has also played in the international prospect league in the Dominican Republic.

Here’s what Badler has to say about Sanchez:

Sanchez is more athletic than Herrera and has more experience catching, which is evident in his catch-and-throw skills. He’s an intelligent, high-energy player who has good hands and is a good receiver. He has a solid arm that plays up due to his quick transfer and accuracy. At his best he’s a quality defender who hits in games, though there are skeptics who question his bat. He doesn’t show much power, so he doesn’t stand out in batting practice, but scouts have seen him hit a lot against live pitching, showing a consistent approach and a contact-oriented swing. Sources believe the Mets have been tracking Sanchez for a long time and will make his signing a priority.

Carpio, a slick-fielding shortstop, has been attached to the Mets for at least a week now, and ranks 30th on this list. Badler notes his stock has been rising as the July 2nd date nears, and his offensive ability is better showcased in live game situations. He has more line drive power potential than home run potential, but he also has good bat control and pitch recognition. Some scouts have said he’s one of the more underrated international prospects.

Here’s Badler’s opinion on the 15-year-old shortstop:

Carpio has improved his strength, bat speed and running times. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.8 seconds in January, but multiple clubs have clocked him at 6.6 seconds recently. He’s at least a plus runner under way, though he doesn’t have a quick first step and doesn’t get out of the box quickly. He is a good athlete who will start his career at shortstop but may end up at second base or center field. His hands are solid, but his footwork needs improvement, and he has a fringe-average arm.

We’ll see how everything shakes out as July 2nd rolls around next week. Are these two players ones you don’t mind the Mets going after? Obviously, it would be nice to see them in on some of the top-rated talent, but who in particular would you have liked to see them pursue?

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Q&A With Prospect Guru John Sickels Of Minor League Ball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/qa-with-prospect-guru-john-sickels-of-minor-league-ball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/qa-with-prospect-guru-john-sickels-of-minor-league-ball.html/#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 12:30:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117887

The Mets used their first-round pick last year on shortstop Gavin Cecchini.

Last month, I had the chance to conduct an email interview with John Sickels of the well-known minor league blog, Minor League Ball. Sickels worked for ESPN many years ago, where he had his own column about minor league baseball. Here is some of what we talked about:

Q: Were the Mets too conservative with the Gavin Cecchini selection?

A: I thought Cecchini was a slight overdraft but I didn’t really think that about Nimmo. By slight, I think he was more of a late first round guy rather than 12 th overall, but that’s my opinion and obviously the Mets disagreed. Their thinking is that a premium defensive shortstop with excellent makeup and a chance to be at least a decent hitter is not easy to find. As with Nimmo, Cecchini is very young of course, just a college freshman age-wise, so it is way too soon to know who is right.

Q: What do you think of the prospects the Mets got for R.A. Dickey?

A: I thought they did well. D’Arnaud has the offensive and defensive ability to be an All-Star catcher, and at least a solid long-term regular. He just needs to stay healthy. I love Syndergaard, who has made a lot of progress with his secondary pitches. He could be a top of the rotation pitcher. They are both elite prospects.

Q: Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia — bullpen or rotation?

A: Bullpen in both cases. I used to think that Familia might make it as a starter, but at this point I think his command and mechanical problems make him a better fit in the pen.

Q: Vicente Lupo wowed in the Dominican Summer League with a .343/.500/.608 slash line and ten home runs over just 65 games. He is a bit of a mystery to many Mets fans. What do you know about him?

A: Well Lupo was a big-bonus guy out of Venezuela who was supposed to hit for power and average. He was terrible in 2011, but supposedly he was sick most of the summer and not at full strength. As you know, he was outstanding last year, more in keeping with the original reports. However, Dominican Summer League performance is not very predictive, so at this point I think we just have to wait and see.

Q: Will changing Triple-A affiliates from Buffalo to Las Vegas have any impact on player development?

A: Las Vegas is an extreme hitters park in a pro-offense league. In one sense, it can be a useful trial-by-fire thing for for pitchers: if you can survive in Vegas, you are better-prepared mentally and emotionally for the major leagues. On the other hand, it does introduce complications in player development for players on both sides of the ball. Breaking pitches don’t act the same. Hitters can get into bad habits that don’t harm them statistically in Vegas, but can come back to haunt them in the majors.

Read more of Sickels’ work at Minor League Ball.

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From Left Field: Please, No K-Rod Reunion! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/from-left-field-please-no-k-rod-reunion.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/from-left-field-please-no-k-rod-reunion.html/#comments Thu, 07 Mar 2013 14:50:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110130 Francisco Rodriguez spoke with reporters during yesterday’s contest in Port St. Lucie between the Mets and Team Venezuela, which is gearing up to compete in the World Baseball Classic.

K-Rod said he would welcome a reunion with the Mets and would be extra motivated if given a second chance to redeem himself.

second_half_begins_with_a_trade_mets_send_krod_to_brewersRodriguez is currently a free agent, and the Mets showed minimal interest earlier in the offseason.

But please, please, please Sandy Alderson: Don’t bring this guy back!

The Mets have moved on from K-Rod and his antics, and there’s really no point in reverting. Why watch a washed up reliever struggle when we have some young guys capable of getting the job the done?

And if those younger guys struggle, give them the chance to work through their mistakes rather than keep giving the same guy numerous chances.

He has already been given a second chance with the Mets. After the whole incident with his girlfriend’s father in 2010, he returned to the Mets in 2011 – after many rumors of a potential release – and actually pitched pretty well.

In fact, he pitched so well that the Milwaukee Brewers traded for him for their stretch run, and he resurrected himself as a setup man.

That was his second chance. The Brewers re-signed him for the 2012 season, and he tanked to 2-7 record with a 4.38 ERA.

So basically he’s now seeking a third chance. Well, he’s come to wrong the place.

With the game on the line in the seventh and eighth inning, I’d much rather see the ball handed off to Bobby Parnell (if he’s not closing), Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin or Robert Carson.

Give these guys a chance. We know that K-Rod is more of a headache than what his production will be on the field. He was actually charged with domestic abuse in September, 2012, so it doesn’t seem he’s changed too much.

It’s great that K-Rod wants to redeem himself to Mets fans for a three-year period of craziness. But hopefully, the Mets stay far away from this guy.

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Morning Update: Collins Concerned With Offense, Santana Making Progress, No Timetable For Murphy’s Return http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/morning-update-collins-concerned-with-offense-santana-making-progress-no-timetable-for-murphys-return.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/morning-update-collins-concerned-with-offense-santana-making-progress-no-timetable-for-murphys-return.html/#comments Thu, 07 Mar 2013 12:45:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110104 johan santanaJohan Santana will make his first Grapefruit League next Thursday, March 14, when the Mets play the Detroit Tigers, according to John Delcos of Metsmerized Online. That would leave three starts before the start to the season.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen told Delcos that Santana is making progress after throwing a long-toss session on Monday and that notable gains have been made on velocity and arm strength.

Terry Collins said that both he and Johan Santana are on the same page now, though the left-hander was silent yesterday after learning of the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Regarding the slow start by some of the players expected to head North with the team, Collins has expressed concern about the offense. “We’re not swinging the bats very good,’’ he said. “But, we still have around 40 at-bats (per starter) to go.’’ He’s hoping to see some improvement across the board with three weeks to go, but particularly with hitters making more contact. Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin are the hottest hitters in camp and yesterday against Venezuela, Spin was in center field after playing mostly second base with the absence of Daniel Murphy in Grapefruit League play.

Murphy, sidelined with a strained right side muscle, played catch, took grounders and hit in the cage on Wednesday. He followed that up by saying he didn’t have a timetable for when he’d take live batting practice and appear in a game.

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Morning Grind: What’s On Tap, Mets vs Venezuela, Good To Be Back http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/morning-grind-whats-on-tap-mets-vs-venezuela.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/morning-grind-whats-on-tap-mets-vs-venezuela.html/#comments Wed, 06 Mar 2013 13:49:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=109976 tradition field springGood morning from Port St. Lucie, where there’s a chill in the air and the sun is just coming up.

Had dinner last night with a friend on the Mets’ beat and like most people I speak with in the media he’s not enthusiastic about them having a good season.

Drove around a little last night and this place has changed over the past few years. Really built up. New hotels and restaurants, including a sushi place not far from where I am staying.

Walked into the lobby and three hotel staffers remembered me by name. Felt like Norm for Cheers. Was a good feeling.

Heading to camp in a few minutes. David Wright is at the WBC and Johan Santana is still here from when I traveled with the team on a regular basis.

Will make a run at Santana for obvious reasons, including a new one – the president of Venezuela died yesterday. Need to get a reaction from him. Ironically, the Mets are playing the Venezuelan team today.

Also Ike Davis to see what he knows about being added to the WBC now that Mark Teixeira is injured. Yankees can’t be too happy about that. I never have, and never will, be a fan of the Classic. It means so much more to players from other countries, especially Latin America than it does to players from the US. But, Felix Hernandez isn’t pitching (could it be that new contract?) and the Japanese players in the majors aren’t all participating.

Wright is on board, but many big name players are not. Have to wonder why.

No, there are no plans to ask Sandy Alderson whether he plans to jump out of any airplanes. Insert your reaction here.

Lot of Mets fans in the lobby. One lady I remember is a regular. She holds court every morning at breakfast. Had cards promoting the blog made up to pass around. Have to think differently now.

Have a great day folks and I’ll be posting regularly here now while covering the Mets beat.

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(Updated) Changes In New CBA: HGH Testing, Qualifying Offers, Elias Rankings Ditched http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/updated-changes-in-new-cba-hgh-testing-qualifying-offers-elias-rankings-ditched.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/11/updated-changes-in-new-cba-hgh-testing-qualifying-offers-elias-rankings-ditched.html/#comments Sun, 20 Nov 2011 00:38:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=65803 According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement is chock full of big changes.

  • Major League Baseball will begin testing for human growth hormone (HGH) beginning in February as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. MLB is the first of the four major sports to now employ blood testing of its players. MLB already conducts random testing for HGH in the minor leagues, a program it began last year.
  • Commissioner Bud Selig already has announced the move of the Houston Astros to the American League. That will pave the way for realignment of the sport into two 15-team leagues, adding a second wild-card playoff team in each league and spreading interleague play throughout all six months of the regular season. The past rule that teams in the same division can’t play in the Division Series round likely will not be part of the new agreement.
  • Under the new CBA, all the current free-agent closers on the market that were previously designated as Type A free agents will no longer cost their new team a first-round draft pick. That means teams can sign Ryan Madson or Francisco Rodriguez without having to forfeit their first-round pick.
  • Teams that lose a player from the new group of unrestricted Type A free agents still will receive compensation picks, as they have previously. The San Diego Padres, for example, will not be penalized for declining to trade closer Heath Bell last season; they still will collect picks for losing him as a free agent.
  • The new CBA will do away with the Elias Sports Rankings starting next season. Under the new system, the top free agents will be subject to compensation only if their former teams make them qualifying offers off at least $12 million annually or more.
  • As part of the deal, baseball’s minimum salary will go from $414,000 this year to $480,000 in 2012 and $500,000 later in the deal — matching what the average salary was in 1989. 
  • Owners gained one of their chief objectives: a restraint on the bonuses paid to amateur free agents, both those entering professional baseball from high schools and colleges and those coming to MLB organizations from abroad.
  • For international free agents, such as players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, there will be a separate threshold and tax with penalties, and there will be a study committee that could put a new system in place later during the agreement. A tax of 75 percent to 100 percent will be imposed on the amount a team exceeds a threshold, and teams exceeding the threshold by higher amounts could lose first and second-round draft picks.

* Latest updates in bold.

More to come…

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K-Rod Feeling Better, Returns To Spring Training http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/03/k-rod-feeling-better-returns-to-spring-training.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/03/k-rod-feeling-better-returns-to-spring-training.html/#comments Tue, 09 Mar 2010 17:48:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=22310 According to Yahoo! Sports, All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez returned to New York Mets camp on Monday after being hampered by conjunctivitis for more than two weeks. He also threw a very successful bullpen session this morning at Port St. Lucie.

Rodriguez had been told to stay away from the team until the pink eye cleared, but the contagious infection took longer than expected to improve. He was sick when he reported to New York’s spring facility, but his eye went undiagnosed until just before full-squad workouts began on February 25th.

The right-hander said he went to the doctor on Friday and was cleared to return Monday, although he still is infected. He continues to take eye drops and isn’t allowed to wear contacts yet.

“It feels much better,” Rodriguez said. “It’s still a little uncomfortable, but it’s good to be around. I was cleared to be around the guys, so it’s fine.”

While away from the team, Rodriguez found anyway he could to throw and was limited to playing catch with his brother, Edward, in the driveway of his home, but Rodriguez said he is not worried about his progress. He told reporters that he probably only needs one bullpen session before pitching in a game, and is looking forward to getting back into a regular routine.

Rodriguez last stepped on a mound about a week ago when he emerged from hiding for a light bullpen session.

“It’s not the same thing playing catch as doing bullpens, being on the field and doing field drills,” Rodriguez said. “It’s completely different, but the good thing is I played winter ball and I am good.”

Rodriguez first had conjunctivitis in his left eye but it quickly spread to the right eye. He said his entire family back in Venezuela has conjunctivitis as well, and now his brother has it in both eyes.

Rodriguez plans to wear prescription sunglasses for a few weeks until his eyes feel completely healthy.

“The first couple days the infection was really strong, and I kind of lost the vision,” Rodriguez said. “It made it a little blurry, but right now I don’t have that, so it’s good.”

Good to know that K-Rod is back to camp and is slowly feeling better. Hopefully we will be able to get a look at him soon in a spring training game once he feels comfortable on the mound once again.

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Josh Thole Is Giving Me Second Thoughts On Bengie Molina http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/12/josh-thole-is-giving-me-second-thoughts-on-bengie-molina.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/12/josh-thole-is-giving-me-second-thoughts-on-bengie-molina.html/#comments Wed, 02 Dec 2009 13:21:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=16595 I’m really starting to have second thoughts about the Mets going after free agent catcher Bengie Molina. I know how strongly I have advocated for Molina in the last two months, but am becoming more and more taken with Josh Thole as he toils away in Winter Ball with the hopes of impressing Mets brass and potentially earning a spot on the big league roster next season.

Thole continues to wield a hot bat in Venezuela and is leading the league with a .391 batting average. In 133 at-bats he has 17 extra-base hits including three home runs, and 24 RBI. He has almost twice as many walks (24) as he does strikeouts (13), and that gives him a sizzling .488 on-base percentage. His 1.059 OPS leads the league as well.

If not for the fact that he might be a defensive liability, the lefthanded hitting Thole is probably a better offensive option than all of the other free agent catchers that are currently being considered by the Mets.

While Thole may not possess the power of Bengie Molina right now, you can make a good argument that he is a better pure hitter and can get on base at a much better rate than Molina. Plus, Thole wouldn’t clog the basepaths like the lead-footed Molina would as the Mets catcher of the future above average speed for a catcher.

As a southpaw, Thole would be perfectly suited for a platoon with the righthanded Omir Santos.

Minor league scouts and coaches have been impressed with how quickly Thole has adapted behind the plate. He has come a long way defensively when you consider that he has only been playing the position for barely two years.

The good news on the defensive front is that Thole is extremely dedicated to improving at his new position, and he believes that he will ultimately be a solid defensive catcher. 

His defensive improvement in Venezuela has already drawn much attention. In fact, I spoke to one of our contacts who covers the Venezualan League in the winter, and yesterday he told me that Thole looks as comfortable behind the plate as any of the other catchers in the league, and that if he is a defensive liability it’s news to him.

That bit of good news is not at all surprising regarding Thole who is a fierce competitor on the field.

I have a suspicious feeling that Molina will probably be looking for a 2-3 year deal this winter. With Omir Santos already settled in as the backup catcher, it may be unwise to block Josh Thole who could be ready to contribute by the All Star break if not sooner.

He certainly will not solve the team’s shortage of homerun power, but he has a swing that is well suited for Citi Field and he should produce a fair share of doubles along with 5-6 home runs. I believe he could have a season very similar to the one Paul Lo Duca produced for the Mets in 2006.

When I consider the other very pricey catching options out there, I can’t help asking myself this one important question:

Are any of those expensive catching options that much better than Josh Thole?

The answer I keep telling myself is no.

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