Mets Merized Online » Wally Backman Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:58:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Featured Post: Can Wilmer Flores Find Stardom At Second Base? Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:12:16 +0000 wilmer flores

The Mets have more than a back-up plan should Daniel Murphy be moved in the offseason, they quite possibly have upgrades.  It’s still a gamble though, Murphy’s production is solid and he has sustained it over the course of several years.  In 126 games at second base this year, he batted (.302) with 34 doubles, 9 home runs and 53 RBI’s.  A critical issue with the Mets offense this year was the inability to hit with men on base.  However, Daniel’s numbers over the last few years suggest he’s part of the solution to that problem, particularly in high pressure scoring situations.  Since 2011, he’s posted remarkable slashline of (.337/.404/.902) when there are runners in scoring position with two outs.

The caveat to Murphy’s offensive talent is his defense.  In a recent ESPN article, Mark Simon noted that, Murphy has been at -10 or worse in Defensive Runs Saved for three straight seasons, meaning that his glove “neutralizes” his offensive upside.  Overall, Daniel is a unique asset and I do not agree wholeheartedly with Simon’s analysis.  Murphy possesses a set of tools that does come with extreme highs and lows, but the net result of his production is still valuable.  So, if he were traded this offseason, what options do the Mets have internally?

One possibility is Dilson Herrera, considered by most scouts to be a top 100 prospect in all of baseball.  The 20 year old Columbian received a surprise call-up from Double-A Binghamton in September and showed a lot of promise.  Herrera only hit .220 during his brief stint, but managed to crank three home runs, a triple and eight RBI in just 59 at-bats.  He flashed the tremendous bat speed that evaluators raved about, but he needs more polishing, which is why he’ll likely start 2015 at Triple-A Las Vegas.  The idea of trading a productive Murphy before Herrera has proven he is ready for a full time promotion brings a ton of risk.  Then there’s the ever forgotten man, Wilmer Flores.

I say forgotten man because Flores didn’t burst on to the scene like many fans expected and his name began to disappear more and more from conversations regarding the future of the Mets.  In all fairness though, he played in another stratosphere when his glove was at second base this year.  The numbers are relatively similar to Murphy’s, except for one category, power.  Get this, Wilmer’s (.563) slugging percentage was (.266) points above his (.297) batting average.  That isolated power (Batting Average – Slugging) was tops in the major leagues among any player who swung a bat as a second basemen.  Wilmer played 18 games at the keystone, so there isn’t a tremendous sample size to evaluate him off of, but every scout and organizational evaluator believed he was capable of that production from the moment he was drafted.

Wally Backman stated that Flores was the best RBI guy he ever managed, which is why he often batted the young Venezuelan third in the lineup.  The defense was never expected to be a premium tool of Wilmer’s, and while his efforts at shortstop were commendable, his glove, footwork and range all improved significantly at second base. Couple that with a powerful arm and he posted some nice little web gems at second, like this one.

The defensive confidence certainly had an impact at the plate, as Flores’ wRC+ of 152 and wOBA of (.385) were better than all qualified second baggers.  Again, I’ll reel in the enthusiasm because it’s only 18 games, but it’s fascinating where advanced sabermetrics rank him during that time nonetheless.  His extra base hit totals during that span, spread over a conservative season of 150 games, would give him 50 doubles and 25 home runs, respectably.

By comparison, Murphy is more of a pure hitter, but Flores wasn’t far behind and his bat has way more pop than Daniel.  Wilmer’s performance at second base was what the Mets were hoping to see from Dilson Herrera someday, so if it’s already here, do the Mets take a gamble and hand the reigns to Flores?  This is a critical decision for GM Sandy Alderson, make the wrong move and it could either weaken the Mets offense or impair player development.  Make the right move and its money well spent or tremendous bang for the buck.

So, is Wilmer Flores the next big second baseman in NY?  Let us know your thoughts.

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A Bag of Balls, A Lot of Questions Mon, 13 Oct 2014 13:00:22 +0000 mike scott astros mets 1986

Former New York Mets catcher Ed Hearn says he has a bag of baseballs in his cellar. They are all from 1986; all from the National League Championship Series; all evidence that Michael Warren Scott cheated.

The rumors started long before the NLCS. In May 1985, during one of Scott’s starts at Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs first baseman Leon Durham found a piece of sandpaper near the mound, “brand new, cut in a circle, big enough to hide in his glove,” Durham told the Chicago Tribune.

In September 1986, two weeks before Scott no-hit the San Francisco Giants to clinch the National League West, the Cincinnati Reds were in Houston. Starter Tom Browning took the mound to warm up. When he picked up the ball, Browning claimed the ball had “… a big ol’ scuff mark … as clear as a quarter on a piece of paper. That wasn’t an accidental scuff from contact.”

“It’s the consensus around the league that Mike Scott cheats,” Mets catcher Gary Carter said after Scott threw his no-hitter.

Scott denied the accusation. His catcher Alan Ashby denied the accusation. Ashby credited the aces split-finger fastball. “If everybody in the league learns to throw that pitch like that, you’ll have a batting champion hitting about .210,” Ashby said.

On July 19, in his only regular season start against New York, Scott’s split-finger neutralized the Mets at the Astrodome, pitching 8 1/3 innings, allowing five hits in a 5-4 Houston win.

keith hernandez

In Game One of the NLCS, Scott did more than hold off the Mets, he humbled them. The Cy Young Award winner struck out a record-tying 14, including Keith Hernandez (three times), Darryl Strawberry (three times) and Carter (twice), and allowed only five hits as the Astros won the opening game of the National League playoffs 1-0 before 44,131 at the Astrodome.

In the first inning, Carter swung at strike two and asked plate umpire Doug Harvey to check the ball. Harvey examined the ball, and tossed it back to Scott. Carter struck out on the next pitch.

“Carter said, ‘Harvey, Harvey, no way. Look at that ball,’” Harvey said after Game One. “So I looked at it. I purposely turned toward Carter. I turned it over one way, then the other. That ball was clean. The man just exploded two tremendous pitches.”

“I saw the ball do some things that are different than you normally see the ball do,” Carter told reporters. “He was just unbelievable. I’d never felt so dominated by a pitcher. All I can say is if he is cheating and getting away with it, I tip my hat to him.”

“The guy is unhittable,” mumbled Strawberry as he reached the Mets bench after striking out in the second inning.

The allegations amused Scott. “If that’s what they want to think, fine,” he said.

Scott’s career was on life support in 1984. He finished the season 5-11. If Mike Scott wanted to continue pitching in the big leagues he needed eight days in San Diego with Roger Craig. That’s how long it took one of the original 1962 Mets pitchers to teach Scott a split-finger.

The next season Craig was managing the Giants and watching his former pupil frustrate his team. Craig was barking at the homeplate umpire all game. Ironically, the man behind the plate was Harvey.

“I finally went toward the dugout and said, ‘Roger, the ball is clean. Do you want it?’” asked Harvey.

“No, I’m just trying to get to his mind,” replied Craig.

Harvey said he “checked 65 or 70 balls thrown by Mike Scott and I haven’t found anything … in my heart, the man is clean.”

The Mets were spooked by Scott’s dominance in Game One. “That may have been the first time all year I’d seen our team not believe in itself,” third baseman Ray Knight said in The Bad Guys Won. Mike Scott was quickly becoming baseball’s version of The Mentalist.

Scott again dominated the Mets – mentally and physically — in Game Four at Shea Stadium, pitching the Astros to a 3-1 win to even the series at two games each. If the Mets didn’t feel cheated after Game One, they did now – and told everyone who would listen.

“Every single ball was scuffed,” said Wally Backman. “You know there are people in the game who cheat. I never knew until late in the game, but when you have 15-20 balls that have been scuffed you know it’s not done by fouling them off. I assume it is something in his glove hand.”

When reporters told Scott what Backman said, the Astros ace replied sarcastically, “Then I’m convinced he corks his bat. This has been going on for two years now.”

The Mets scratched out three hits (four base runners) in Game Four. In two starts, Scott set a playoff record for most consecutive scoreless innings (16) and strikeouts in a league playoff series (19). In 18 innings, Scott surrendered one run and struck out 19 Mets batters.


Scouts reportedly watched Scott with binoculars and could not offer any conclusive evidence of scuffing the baseball, leading one reporter to write: “Until they find Mike Scott in possession of a nail file, corkscrew or table saw, the New York Mets will lack the hard evidence to back up their opinion as to why he is so unhittable.”

The next day it rained in New York, postponing Game Five and providing the Mets with another opportunity to make their case against Scott. The team asked National League president Chub Feeney to examine 15 baseballs. Feeney promised to examine the baseballs himself before Scott pitched a possible Game Seven.

“We have some balls that were defaced,” said Johnson. “A lot of people believe it was done by Scott. I think Mike Scott could make a cue ball dance. But if he is defacing the ball, I’d like to see him stopped. What we have is circumstantial evidence. But I’d take a lie detector test on it.”

The controversy was getting ugly. Through the media, the Mets and Astros started a war of words. Backman and Howard Johnson, who saved baseballs hit into the Mets dugout, turned them over to the league. The move angered Astros manager Hal Lanier.

“If Backman and Johnson are such big fans of Mike’s, they can bring those baseballs over and Mike will autograph them for them,” said Lanier. “They say they have all these balls that are scuffed up. Who knows what happens to baseballs when they get in locker room. Mike (Scott) has never been found guilty of anything.”

Mental edge: New York.

Mike Scott peered out the Astros dugout as the Mets and Astros weaved and bobbed through 16 innings of Game Six. Everyone in the Mets dugout knew if they lost that night, the only way to get to the World Series was to beat the seemingly unbeatable Scott.

The Mets escaped a third showdown against Scott, winning 7-6.

“He watched from the dugout, he haunted us,” said Carter. “He stuck in the back of our minds. No, sir, we didn’t want to face him the following day for all the marbles … The man had a power over us even when he was spending the game on the bench.”

“I feel like I’ve been pardoned,” said Mets manager Davey Johnson after clinching in Game Six. “I really don’t want to see Scott again until next April.”

Post Script:

In 2009, Gary Carter was managing the Long Island Ducks and writing a blog for Newsday. More than two decades had passed since Carter whiffed helplessly against Scott.

Carter wrote, I have often been asked if I thought we could have beaten the Astros in Game 7 back in ’86 … Knowing Scott was looming for a Game 7 was big, and having to face him might have written a completely different story. He was dominant in the other two games we faced him, but knowing our team’s character, we would of found a way to win.

Time restores confidence, even if it takes two decades.

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Mets Discussing Adding Backman To 2015 Coaching Staff Thu, 18 Sep 2014 22:07:55 +0000 wally backman las vegas review-journal

A team insider told ESPN New York that they are currently considering having Wally Backman permanently join Terry Collins’  coaching staff in 2015. Adam Rubin adds that Collins views Backman as an ally, and not a threat.

“We have a very strong relationship,” Collins said. “Wally and I are very good friends. We always have been — for a lot of years. When he joined the organization, I was the [minor-league] field coordinator. And I still enjoy my time when I talk to him or when we’re together. So I’m glad he’s coming. He brings a lot to the table.”

This may be as close as Wally gets to ever managing the Mets. I see it as a sign that Collins is definitely returning as Mets manager next season, and Sandy Alderson’s way of throwing a bone to the fans who have been calling for Backman to be named manager.

In the grand scheme of things, Collins still calls all the shots so nothing really changes.

(Joe D.)

September 12

The Mets announced today that Wally Backman will join the Mets coaching staff for the remainder of the season on September 19th.

Backman, the manager of the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate the Las Vegas 51′s, was named the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year for guiding the Las Vegas 51s to another division title.

Backman has been a manager in the Mets farm system for the past five seasons, and has served as the manager of the 51′s since 2013.

Last week, Bob Klapisch of The Record said that Mets GM Sandy Alderson needs to shed his prejudice against the very trait that makes Backman unique – that he’s an independent thinker with a strong personality.

Backman has done his penance since the fiasco in Arizona ten years ago. He has played by the rules, avoided controversy, poured himself into the job as a mentor, and has risen steadily through the organization, Klapisch argued.

“No one can say Backman doesn’t win over his players. To a man, they cite his enthusiasm and toughness, an infectious positive attitude that’s helped a number of young Mets on their way up.”

Something has to give, Klapisch concludes. Alderson’s team is mired in a losing culture and desperately need is a blast of accountability. They’ve become far too comfortable losing year after year. Backman could change that ethos. He deserves to at least try.

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Di-JEST: My Top 10 Fake Mets Headlines Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:00:14 +0000 I’ve been a reader of newspapers for as long as I can remember. Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island I spent years reading the NYC tabloids and then Newsday.

Now living upstate I read the local paper to see what streets have sinkholes the size of in-ground swimming pools.

I still keep up with the NY papers using their online sites. But in my humble opinion, nothing beats a foldable paper in hand. Here are some headlines I’ve made up, most of which I’d love to see, but know we won’t. The newspaper mastheads are courtesy of Newseum and headlines are my own of course.

1. We’ll start with one fans of Wally Backman would love, even though I just can’t see Alderson tabbing him as the next Mets manager. 

headline1 copy

2. Here’s one every baseball fan would be thrilled to read. And how about a pill to make hamstring pulls abate?


3. Of all the headlines this would be the one that would please me most.

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4. Let’s face it, the Dude has had a fine year but still can’t do squat against a left handed pitcher.


5. I really wonder about this next guy’s future.


6. And as if we could ever afford this guy….


7. I wonder if Juan could make a catch like Willie Mays made on Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series.

headline7 copy8. This is how Murph rolls…

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9. Wishful thinking here.  Kevin will be missed.


10. I’ll admit that Wilmer has been better than I thought he’d be at short but…


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3 Up, 3 Down: Mets Phil Up on Momentum For Miami Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:21:25 +0000 dilson herrera jenrry mejia

The Mets went almost entirely with home grown talent this weekend against the Phillies as clubhouse veterans such as Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Curtis Granderson saw their playing diminished for various reasons.  The results?  The Amazins’ added another series W to this year’s resume.  Below are the usual 3 Up/3 Down takeaways.

3 Up

1.  Sunday was an interesting sight as the Mets trotted out three former center field prospects in Matt den Dekker (LF), Juan Lagares (CF) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (RF) to defend the outfield.  As a unit, they also accounted for half of the offensive production yesterday, scoring 3 runs, stealing 3 bases while putting up a slash line of .333/.500/.833.  Defensively, Matt den Dekker played some great defense all series, making a web gem catch in Saturday’s loss to rob Ryan Howard of an extra base hit.  He also put in a great bid to gun down Freddy Galvis at home plate off of a sharp single by Jimmy Rollins, but Anthony Recker was unable to hold on to the one hop toss from Matt, despite on a dime.

2.  Jacob deGrom resumed his campaign for ROTY by having an excellent outing on Friday.  The former Stetson standout went 7 innings, allowing only 4 hits, 1 unearned run and 2 walks while punching out 5.  The 26 year old rookie has some outstanding numbers at home this season, posting a 1.68 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, a 3.06 strikeout to walk ratio, 0.50 home runs per 9 innings while opponents bat a meager .215 against him at Citi Field.

3.  Wilmer Flores had an outstanding series.  The 24 year old Venezuelan turned a great performance at the plate and with the glove.  Flores had a triple slash line of .500/.545/1.145, scored 2 runs, plated an RBI and even swiped a base.  On defense, Wilmer helped turn four separate double plays while also flashing some nice range, robbing Ben Revere of a base hit with a diving snag in yesterday’s win.

4. A bonus “UP” for Dilson Herrera who made his major league debut and earned his first hit, walk and RBI during the three game set. The beginning of what should be a fantastic career for the 20-year old second baseman.

3 Down

1. Curtis Granderson is spiraling downward rapidly since the All-Star break.  The struggling slugger only played two games in the series, getting a day to “clear his head” (a.k.a. benched) on Sunday.  Granderson went 0-8 with 2 strikeouts and despite one spectacular catch on Saturday night, his defense is extremely conservative and overall a liability.  It doesn’t help his cause that Lagares and den Dekker are spectacular within their respective regions, but there were several outfield hits that either of Granderson’s counterparts would have made and these hits ended up being the majority difference in the Amazins’ lone loss from the series.  Terry Collins disregarded the hits as more luck than anything else, but Curtis has lost a step in his speed to the ball and his bat isn’t hot enough to make up for the lack of defense.

2.  Lucas Duda is slumping hard recently and carried this trend into the Phillies series.  The Hulk went 1 for 12 in the series with no extra base hits, walks or RBI’s.  Duda even contributed a rare throwing error in Friday’s win, although his defense has remained solid overall.  The emergence of Duda was sure to come with some downward movement, but the upcoming series against Miami will be a true test for him and his future.  He is batting 0.87 with two singles in his last two series.  If Lucas is able to break out of his woes and get back to laying the barrel on the ball, it will go a long way towards quieting his critics who do not see his 2014 performance as proof that he is a lock at 1st base for the future.

3. Terry Collins continues to look like a lock in 2015, despite Wally Backman putting up tremendous numbers on the farm and garnering the support of nearly the entire fan base.  News broke during this series that there’s no chance the front office will consider the former World Series champ as a candidate to unseat the current manager and Collins’ remaining contract has little to do with it.  Had something to do with Wally thinking on his own, managing winning ball clubs with constantly fluctuating rosters, just winning in general…I don’t know, something along those lines.

*Side Note*- Condolences to Bartolo Colon for the loss of his mother, whom he buried Thursday prior to the start of this series.  Big ‘tolo didn’t have the best outing on Saturday, but it took incredible guts for him to get on the mound after such a devastating experience.  Thoughts and prayers are with Colon and his whole family.

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Backman Has No Shot At Managing Mets Despite Being Named League’s Best Manager Sun, 31 Aug 2014 14:03:04 +0000 wally backman las vegas review-journal

John Harper of the Daily News wrote an extensive article on what the future may hold for Wally Backman now that he has been named the PCL Manager of the Year. He says that if nothing else, the award is just more proof that Backman is a very good minor-league manager who deserves a chance at a big-league job.

Terry Collins is almost a lock to be back in 2015 and everything Harper hears from people in the organization indicates that Sandy Alderson would never tab Backman to manage the team under any circumstances even though he seems to be that “people’s choice.”

The reason for that is Backman is too much of an “I’ll-do-it-my-way personality.”

Harper says that Backman should at the very least join the staff as a bench coach for Terry Collins given Alderson’s apparent lack of regard him as a manager.

He adds that Backman’s feel for the game could be a benefit to Collins, in the way that Don Zimmer made Joe Torre a better manager when they were together.

However when he ran that scenario by the Mets, the reaction was a fear that Backman’s presence might lead fans to chant his name the first time the ballclub lost five games in a row next season. They see Backman as a threat.

Not surprisingly, he says, the Mets always seem to fear the worst in every situation. Maybe they need someone with Backman’s fearlessness to change that way of thinking.

Backman remains hopeful. ”I know what I’m capable of doing. My desires have not changed at all to manage in the big leagues. I think I’ll get an opportunity at some time.”

Unfortunately for Wally, that opportunity will never come in Flushing – not as long as Alderson remains in charge.

It’s a shame really. This team is starving for new leadership and needs a fresh voice and message. I’ll have more on that Monday.

(Joe D.)

August 29

Wally Backman has been named the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.

This season the Las Vegas 51′s are 80-61 and are the only team to have clinched their division in the PCL. They led the league in wins, home runs and runs (by 88!).

Hired in 2009 by the Mets, Backman has risen through the ranks managing in Brooklyn. He took over as the Mets Triple-A manager (first the Buffalo Bisons, then the Las Vegas 51s) in 2012.

His last two seasons at AAA have been incredible, winning over 80 games both years.

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Demotion Helped D’Arnaud Regain Confidence and Swing Thu, 17 Jul 2014 04:45:08 +0000 darnaud

Travis d’Arnaud has had his struggles since being promoted to the big leagues in 2013, mostly from trying to live up to the pressures of playing in the big city and producing.

Coming into the 2014 season, the hype grew even larger and it might have just been too much for the young rookie to bear. So on June 7, the Mets made the right choice to demote d’Arnaud to Las Vegas who was only hitting .180 at the time. Many wondered, including myself, what would come of it, but it was obvious that d’Arnaud needed a fresh start and a new outlook on his future.

What looked like a bad situation, has actually helped turn d’Arnaud’s season around.

When the rookie catcher first arrived in Vegas, Marc Carig of Newsday writes that a roundtable session was set up, and it included 51s manager Wally Backman, hitting coach George Greer and pitching coach Frank Viola. All three helped d’Arnaud talk through the anxieties that weighed him down and helped to clear his head.

The support that he initially received helped to get him back on the right track, ”I’ve had a lot of support,” d’Arnaud tells Newsday. “And I had a lot of help immediately, which was huge for me.”

In 15 games with the 51s, d’Arnaud hit .436 (24 for 55), six home runs and 16 RBI’s.

“He just needed to slow things down and understand that he was good enough to be who they wanted him to be,” Viola said. “But he had to be good enough for him first. He was putting so much undue pressure on himself that he just had to take a little time to step back.”

Viola continued, “He realized, ‘You know what? I am my own worst enemy right now.’ He got down here, he took care of his own little demons whatever they might have been, he saw the ball, hit the ball, and called the game. He did everything that was asked of him.”

That is all any coach or manager could ask for and what came of the initial decision to send him down, could become a saving grace on his career.

Since returning to the Mets on June 24th, d’Arnaud is hitting .295 (18 for 61) with five doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI’s.

“If I have a good at-bat, I’m happy now,” d’Arnaud said. “Before, if I had a productive out, if I lined out, I would get on myself so much because I was so worried about getting a hit. It helps me to stay even-keeled.”

Now as the Mets begin their second half on Friday and only five games under .500, d’Arnaud’s resurgence is key to a team still trying to find their identity and a young catcher still finding his way. 

You can read Carig’s the full article here

(Photo Credit:Jim McIsaac)

mmo always believe

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Featured Post: It’s Time For A Change… #FreeWally Mon, 26 May 2014 21:26:25 +0000 terry collins opening day

Sometimes, a fresh start is needed. And it´s about time this happens for the Mets in terms of managing the players on the active roster.

Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores make up almost one third of the Mets roster by now and are looking to establish themselves as major leaguers for the long haul and maybe part of the Mets next core going forward. All eight are 25 years old or younger. And all eight remain under team control for the next 5+ years.

Hopefully the growing pains won´t be too extensive. And while Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard – the two highest ceiling arms that also belong into that group – remain in the pipeline poised to help either late in this season or early next, this is pretty much it in terms of potential impact young talent for the major league roster for the foreseeable future. There are no blue chip prospects other than Syndergaard left in the upper levels – with Cesar Puello and Kevin Plawecki coming closest but projecting more as solid complementary pieces. So, the time has arrived where things have to be taken seriously.

The Mets chances for the remainder of the 2014 season but even more so in 2015 largely depend on how this group of young players ends up performing and how quickly they manage to adjust to the major leagues. With veterans like Wright, Granderson, Murphy, Niese, Gee and Colon potentially also playing a vital role, of course.

terry collins

For the past 3+ years, Terry Collins and his staff have navigated the Mets through the rebuilding phase, dominated by severe financial restrictions and tried to keep spirits up in spite of having limited talent at hand. It´s tough to say whether the impact of TC and his staff on the 77, 74 and 74 win seasons from 2011 through 2013 was positive, neutral or negative. Still, at the very least, TC was a good soldier and oversaw the transition on the field. But now a new era has begun.

The wave of young talent we’ve been waiting on for a couple of years has pretty much arrived. Yet, the results on the field haven´t changed and the Mets once again seem headed towards a mid-70 win season with no “meaningful” games scheduled for August and September. TC – apparently well liked & respected by his players – deserved the chance to return in 2014 with the financial restrictions lessened and the wave of young talent finally arriving. But a good start was mandatory to receive an extended chance – and the Mets currently find themselves at 20-25 approaching the end of May and are another losing streak away from pretty much eliminating themselves from the 2014 playoff race for good.

This experiment can´t go on. While TC deserves credit and appreciation for trying his best with what he had, he symbolizes the transitional period of 2011 and 2013 – with the common denominator that his teams have constantly failed to win. It may not be his fault and it may not be fair. But he can´t remain in charge of the Mets. Offer him a job within the organization as a thank-you . But relieve him of his duties. Right NOW – and not in a month when the Mets may well be 30-40 and totally out of things.


Wally Backman may not be the ideal longterm manager for the Mets. No other major league organization has seriously considered him for an MLB managerial job in recent history. And he sure has some personal baggage on his resumé. But he also symbolizes a very good time in Mets history and a fighting spirit that will give him the backing of the fan base.

Backman also is highly regarded by all of his players. And while Collins has continued losing with the Mets, Wally Backman has gone 113-77 with the Las Vegas 51s over the past year and a third with large chunks of the current Mets roster having played and won under his watch. Now is the time to win back the fans, create some excitement and give Wally Backman his well deserved chance. Maybe he can be the modern version of Davey Johnson who took over the 1984 Mets with success after successfully managing the Tidewater Tides in 1983. Do it now. And stop hoping things turnaround themselves. They won´t.

Will this be the cure and instantly turn the Mets into a 90-game winner ? Probably not. But it would show how serious ownership & the front office are about EXPECTING and not just hoping to win. And creating a fresh start with a fresh group of players. If that still doesn´t work, the front office will have to ask themselves whether to start making significant changes to the roster structure via trades. What´s needed in 2014 isn’t necessarily a playoff team, but obvious progress. And currently we´re not seeing that. ACT!


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Andrew Brown Optioned To Make Room For Bobby Abreu Mon, 21 Apr 2014 18:49:36 +0000 Bobby-Abreu

The Mets have added Bobby Abreu to the 25 man roster and he will be available for tonight’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Andrew Brown was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for him. Brown batted .185 with one home run and five RBI in 30 plate appearances this season.

The 40-year-old Abreu hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2012, when he played eight games for the Los Angeles Angels and then 92 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Abreu signed a minor-league contract with the Mets, and batted .395 in 15 games for Triple-A Las Vegas with four doubles and six RBI.

The Mets needed to make a decision on Abreu, who could have asked out of his contract if he wasn’t promoted by the end of this month.

It’s still unclear if this decision is just to add a bat to the bench, or a bigger role.

April 12

Mike Puma of the NY Post has learned that Bobby Abreu has an April 30 opt out clause on the deal he signed with the Mets.

“Don’t be surprised if he’s with the Mets by end of month,” Puma says.

April 11

When the Mets signed Bobby Abreu on March 31, I have to admit, I really didn’t understand that move, especially when the Mets have a crop of younger ball players ready to take their turn and become stars on the big club.  The move to bring in a 40 year old ball player past his prime didn’t really sit well with me.  My thinking was maybe they feel he still has something left in the tank, but in reality it could delay a top prospect for a what-if.

But I have to admit, at least for now that I will have to eat my words, because not only has Abreu been hitting, but he has actually solidified himself in the lineup and has started to be a guy to count on to produce.

On the season so far he is 10 for 19, batting .526/.591/684, with three doubles, has only struck out twice and has hit safely in seven of the eight games he has played with the 51′s.  He also has three multi hit games in that stretch.

Wally Backman has seen his share of great hitters and he tells the Las Vegas Journal-Review that Abreu still has it, “He turned on a 98 mph fastball with the bases loaded, so I’d say he can still hit.”

I can’t say that Abreu is the answer to the Mets offensive woes, but if he continues to hit and produce, the Mets may need to make some decisions and possibly see if he is actually someone who can bring something to the table for the team – assuming he continues to smash Triple A pitching. It could make for a good story line.

(Photo Credit: Josh Holmberg/Las Vegas Review Journal)


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Mets Want More “Attitude” From Syndergaard Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:31:23 +0000 Noah_Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard has a major league fastball and curveball, but the Mets would like to see a little more “attitude” from their top pitching prospect according to what team sources told the New York Post.

According to club sources, the stud right-hander disappointed organizational officials with his approach in his first two starts for Triple-A Las Vegas, but looked better on Monday after he was challenged by manager Wally Backman to bring more of a presence to the mound.

“Backman told him to be more aggressive and asked him who he wants to become,” said a person with knowledge of the conversation. “Does he want to become a middle-of-the-road starter or top-of-the-line starter? Syndergaard said he wanted to be a No. 1. He went out with a little more of an attitude on Monday.”

Syndergaard pitched five innings in his last start, allowing two runs on five hits. Overall he is 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts for Las Vegas.

The Mets are following the road map they used with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler before him which means Syndergaard will stay at Triple-A until at least late June to help keep the clock from starting on his Super-2 arbitration status.

Rafael Montero has been light’s out in Vegas, and will most likely get the call to the majors first. Many in the organization feel he is currently major league ready, and some felt that way at the end of last season.

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With Improved Control, Leathersich Could Become A Late Inning Star Mon, 24 Feb 2014 16:42:21 +0000 jack leathersich

John Harper of the NY Daily News writes that lefty reliever Jack Leathersich‘s live stuff and deceptive delivery could make him a late-inning star, if he solves his control issues.

Harper compares Leathersich’s control to ‘Wild Thing” Mitch Williams, and calls him the Mets’ most intriguing pitching prospect.

In his three seasons moving through the Mets organization, Leathersich has 241 strikeouts in 143 innings of relief and Harper shares that the lefty’s deceptive delivery makes his 94-mph heater look more like 100 to hitters.

“Hitters tell me he throws an invisi-ball,” Zack Wheeler joked with Harper. “For some reason, they just don’t see it very well.”

Leathersich, who is 5-foot-11, isn’t a big presence on the mound like Noah Syndergaard, but his ability to strikeout a ton of batters, helps his case. In 2013, Leathersich began the season with Binghamton (AA) and recorded 16.9 strikeouts per nine innings with a 1.53 ERA in 24 games. However, after he was promoted to Las Vegas (AAA), his ERA ballooned to 7.76, but he still managed to record 14.6  strikeouts per nine innings. He also walked nearly double the batters with Vegas in about the same 29 innings of work.

“He’s got a big-league arm,” Triple-A manager Wally Backman shared on Sunday. “If he gets past the command issues, he could be special.”

Making the jump from Double-A to Triple-A he learned quickly how losing command of his pitches could change a game, “Even though I was still getting swings and misses,” Leathersich tells Harper, “I was also losing guys (to walks) or getting behind. And when you get behind on guys at that level, they make you pay.”

“That stuff had never really affected me before, but at that level I realized I needed to make a change, so all offseason I worked on getting the ball down. I’ve made a couple of tweaks in my delivery to keep my front shoulder from flying open, and it should help me throw more strikes.”

On Sunday at Mets camp, I watched as Leathersich threw to live batters and did struggle with his command, and not sure if you can chalk that up to just nerves or something he still hasn’t been able to shake.

If Leathersich is going to enjoy any success at the major league level, he is going to have to get a handle on his command issues. With highly regarded pitching coach Frank Viola there to help, he may be able to get those issues resolved and earn himself a spot in the Mets bullpen at some point this season.

Photo Credit: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News. You can read the entire article at the NY Daily News and follow John on twitter @NYDNHarper

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Val Pascucci Named Hitting Coach For Class-A Savannah Tue, 14 Jan 2014 19:39:43 +0000 Sand Gnats ok

Luis Rojas will return to manage the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats. in 2014. Joining the staff will be pitching coach Marc Valdes and athletic trainer Eric Velazquez, both of whom spent 2013 with the Mets Class-A Short-Season Brooklyn Cyclones. The club will also welcome first-year hitting coach and former Mets slugger Val Pascucci.

Luis Rojas enters his ninth season with the Mets organization and his third as manager of the Savannah Sand Gnats. Rojas led the 2013 Savannah Sand Gnats to its first title in 17 years defeating the Hagerstown Suns, three games to one, in a best-of-five series. “I feel blessed to come back as the Sand Gnats manager. 2013 was truly a memorable season,” said Rojas. “We’ll compete in the 2014 season inning by inning to defend our title.”

Pitching coach Marc Valdes enters his eighth year in the Mets organization and his third overall in Savannah. Valdes spent 2009 and 2010 with the Savannah Sand Gnats. Valdes returns to the club after coaching with the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League in 2013 and the Double-A Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League in 2012.

Hitting Coach Val Pascucci enters his first year coaching after a 13 year playing career that included a stint in the Japan Pacific League. Pascucci was drafted in 1999 out of the University of Oklahoma by the Montreal Expos. The 6’6″ outfielder and first baseman hit his way to the majors in 2004 with the Expos and again in 2011 with the Mets. Pascucci, a Bellflower, Calif., native, won the 2012 Triple-A All Star Game Home Run Derby as a member of the Buffalo Bisons.

binghamton b-mets

Fresh off one of the best seasons in Binghamton Mets history, the New York Mets announced today that manager Pedro Lopez, hitting coach Luis Natera and pitching coach Glenn Abbott will return to guide the Double-A club in 2014.

Lopez, 44, led the 2013 Binghamton Mets to a franchise-record 86 wins and a trip to the postseason, their first since 2004. The club compiled the best record in the Eastern League and took home the regular season Eastern Division crown under their second-year manager.

Entering his fourth season in the New York Mets’ organization, Abbott returns to the Southern Tier for his third year as pitching coach. Prior to his time with the Mets, Abbott was a pitching coach for five years in the San Diego Padres’ system, spent four seasons with the Texas Rangers’ organization and logged 13 years at various levels with the Oakland Athletics. The Arkansas native began his coaching career with the Little Falls Mets in 1985.

Luis Natera will serve as the B-Mets hitting coach for the seventh straight season and eighth overall. This year marks Natera’s 23rd in the Mets’ organization. He has served as a hitting coach at five different levels during that timeframe, including stints with Buffalo (AAA, 2009), St. Lucie (High-A, 2007), Hagerstown (Low-A, 2005-06), Kingsport (Rookie, 2003-04), and Capital City (Low-A, 1999).

st. lucie mets logo

Over the weekend, the St. Lucie Mets (Advanced-A) announced their coaching staff as well. Ryan Ellis will return as the Manager and is joined for the third consecutive season by pitching coach Phil Regan and hitting coach Joel Fuentes.

Ellis begins his third season as the team’s manager. In 2013, Ellis guided the Mets to a record of 71-60, just falling short of the second half South Division Playoffs. The Mets finished the season with the second best overall record in the Florida State League Southern Division. He was named Florida State League Manager of the Year in 2012 as the Mets finished with the most wins in team history at 83-52.

Veteran pitching coach Phil Regan enters his sixth season with the St. Lucie Mets. Regan was the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians in 1999 and served in the same role for the Chicago Cubs in 1997 and 1998. He also was the pitching coach for Team USA during the 2000 Olympics. Regan managed the Baltimore Orioles to a 71-73 record during the strike-shortened 1995 season.

Joel Fuentes will begin his first season as hitting coach for the Mets. Fuentes returns from Savannah, after serving two years as the Sand Gnats hitting coach and in the same role with Brooklyn Cyclones in 2009-2010. In 2008 and 2011, Fuentes coached in St. Lucie. He will enter his eighth season with New York Mets organization.

Las Vegas 51's

Finally,  Wally Backman will return for his second season as 51s manager, and Frank “Sweet Music” Viola will be the pitching coach for the New York Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the team announced last week. During the 2013 season, Backman led the 51s to their first Pacific Coast League playoff berth since 2002.

“Frankie’s a great guy. He’s very knowledgeable about the game. He’s a baseball guy,” Backman said. “He played the game a long time and takes a lot of pride working with the pitching staff. He’s going to be an asset to our club.”

The 1987 World Series Most Valuable Player and 1988 American League Cy Young Award winner for the Minnesota Twins, Viola has been a pitching coach in the Mets’ farm system the past three seasons — the past two for the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats after spending 2011 with the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones. Viola replaces Randy St. Claire on the Las Vegas coaching staff.

George Greer will return as hitting coach for Las Vegas.

Updated 1/15/2014

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Frank Viola: Sweet Music To A Pitching Prospect’s Ears Thu, 09 Jan 2014 05:21:19 +0000 Frank-Viola1

Anthony DiComo of confirmed on Wednesday that the Mets have named Frank Viola their new Triple-A pitching coach. Viola will join Wally Backman‘s staff, and look to continue the same success that he has experienced while coaching one year with Brooklyn (A-) and the past two with Savannah (A).

Viola, who played with the Twins for nine seasons, joined the Mets and won 20 games during the 1990 season. He is a former AL Cy Young winner, a three-time All-Star and finished his career at 176-150 with a 3.73 ERA.

There have been a few Mets prospects that I have spoken with that have had nothing but great things to say about Viola. Here are some of the ones I recently interviewed who shared what Frank Viola meant to them:

Paul Sewald- I would have to say Frank Viola has made the biggest impact on my game so far in my professional career. He just has so much experience and insight that you just listen when he has advice. He talks a lot about the approach and mental aspects of the game and I certainly think it elevated my performance this summer.

Stefan Sabol - Definitely Frank Viola helped a lot with me mentally on the game,  I’m truly blessed to have had him as my coach for this past season.

Luis Cessa - Frank Viola is a great coach, he help me a lot of times with a lot of different things, all season long.

Steven Matz - Having Frank Viola as my pitching coach this year was a true blessing. Having a 15 or 16 year big league career, he has seen it all. He really knows how to optimize a pitching staff. He knew what each of us were capable of and he didn’t let us do any less. And it showed.

Beck Wheeler -  I gained so much knowledge talking with our pitching coach Frank Viola.  He helped me understand how to pitch more effectively and scenarios that I should be throwing certain pitches. He certainly taught me a lot about myself as a pitcher and a person.  He’s such a genuine coach and really tells you what it is, be it good or bad.  Being in the majors for 16 years, he brought a wealth of knowledge to our pitching staff and he could critique us individually.  He has some great stories from his playing days and always lightens the mood in the clubhouse.

Charley Thurber - Frank Viola helped me transition to the pro game in Brooklyn. He was one of the coaches that believed in me and I was able to succeed. He was someone special in my career because he knew me from the start and didn’t care where I came from. Learning from him and my other coaches was definitely a reason I had the confidence and performance to become an NY Penn League All Star.

Hunter Carnevale - There is so much I can say about Frank Viola. The experience that he brings to a pitching staff is immeasurable. Since he’s basically seen/done it all, you can ask him about anything and he will say something that, if you take it to heart, will definitely help you. I’ve been with Frank for 2 years ( 2011 in Brooklyn and this past year) and the biggest thing he helps you with, is understanding your strengths and how to utilize those strengths against the batter. Once you realize what kind of pitcher you are he preaches to ” trust your stuff,” get ahead of the batter,  and compete.

The 51′s look to continue the success that the organization experienced in 2013 when they went 81-63 and won their division. Viola brings a winning attitude to Las Vegas as his Savannah Sand Gnats won the South Atlantic League Championship last season. It’s a great move by the Mets and a great opportunity for Sweet Music to show what he can do with our prospects at the highest level of the system.

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Around the Diamond – What’s on Second? Sat, 28 Dec 2013 18:53:18 +0000 edgardo alfonzo

Going around the Diamond – there have been 24 different players in the Mets 52 year history that would could be classified as the “everyday” second baseman.

So who has played there the most? (seasons classified as the main second baseman in parenthesis)

10. Tim Teufel (1987). Tim played in 325 games (251 starts) at second for the Mets as the other half of the platoon with Wally Backman. He played in 93 games (72 starts) at second in 1987 to classify him as the “main” second baseman that season (although Wally Backman actually started 76 games, but appeared in 87 games at second that year – fewer than Teufel). In his 6 seasons as a Met, Tim hit .256 with 35 HR and 164 RBI.

9. Gregg Jefferies (1989-1991). Gregg played 328 games at second (308 starts). With the Mets, he was a .276 hitter with 42 HR, 205 RBI, 96 doubles, and 63 SB. He led the National League with 40 doubles in 1990.

8. Luis Castillo (2007-2010). Luis played in 342 games at second (325 starts). As a Met, he hit .274 with 5 HR, 105 RBI, and 55 SB.

7. Jeff Kent (1993-95). Jeff appeared in 390 games at second (383 starts). With the Mets, he hit .279 with 67 HR, 267 RBI and 98 doubles.

6. Ron Hunt (1963-64, 1966). Ron played 420 games at second (411 starts). As a Mets, he hit .282 with 20 HR and 127 RBI. He was an All-Star in 1964 & 1966.

5. Ken Boswell (1969-72). Ken played 506 games at second (472 starts). With the Mets, he hit .250 with 31 HR and 193 RBI.

4. Edgardo Alfonzo (1999-2001). Fonzie was the primary second baseman for the two back-to-back playoff teams and was also the Mets primary third baseman in 4 other seasons. As a Met, he hit .292 with 120 HR and 538 RBI. In 1999, he hit .304 with 27 HR, 108 RBI, scored 123 runs and hit 41 doubles with a .384 OBP. In 2000, he hit .324 with 25 HR, 94 RBI, scored 109 runs and hit 40 doubles with a .425 OBP. He was an All-Star in 2000 and the won the Silver Slugger award in 1999. Fonzie was, in my opinion, the best second baseman in franchise history.

3. Doug Flynn (1978-1981). Doug came to the Mets in the June 15, 1977 trade that banished Tom Seaver to the Reds. Doug appeared in 530 games at second (496 starts). In the Orange and Blue, he hit .234 with 5 HR and 155 RBI. In 1980, he won a Gold Glove.

2. Felix Millan (1973-77). Felix appeared in 674 games at second (657 starts) and in 1975, he started 162 games. With the Mets, he hit .278 with 8 HR and 182 RBI.

1. Wally Backman (1982, 1984-86, 1988). Wally played in more games at second than any other Met, appearing in 680 games at second (577 starts). He hit .283 with 7 HR and 165 RBI and 106 RBI.

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It’s 50/50 That Lagares or Flores Make Team Out Of Spring Training Sat, 14 Dec 2013 15:25:23 +0000 wilmer flores

I find it so strange that two of the team’s top MLB-ready position prospects – Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares – are also the two players who stand to lose significant playing time in 2014, according to statements made by the front office and just the buzz we heard in Orlando.

Both players have done a solid job at Winter Ball with Lagares posting a .342/.379/.412 batting line in 114 DWL at-bats, and Flores with an even more impressive .391/.463/.478 batting line in 46 at-bats in the VWL.

What else these two have to prove at this point in Triple-A (where each excelled already) is beyond my understanding. And yet there’s as good a chance that either will start the season in Las Vegas than the New York Mets. One person I spoke to said it’s 50/50 for both of them at this point. Sounds like easy money to be made at some live casinos.


For Lagares, it comes down to the possibility of losing his everyday job to newly acquired Chris Young as the Mets are intent on playing Eric Young Jr. everyday in 2014, according to what two different Mets people told us at the Winter Meetings.

The team sees EY as not only an everyday contributor, but their best leadoff candidate despite an on-base that barely clears .300. Rather than have the young Lagares squander on the bench, they’d rather have him play everyday for Wally Backman. I guess that’s understandable, but I don’t have to like it.

In Flores’ case, we didn’t hear much on him in Orlando, but the Mets clearly don’t want to trade Daniel Murphy and there’s already a glut at first base which means a one-way ticket to the Nevada desert for the most exciting of the two offensively.

In September, I would have guessed that both Lagares and Flores would be locks for an everyday job in 2014, now they may not even hang on for a bench spot. But that’s the way the ball bounces in Flushing… Always unpredictable…

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MMO Exclusive Interview With Outfield Prospect Cory Vaughn Wed, 11 Dec 2013 16:00:03 +0000 vaughn

The Mets signed Cory Vaughn in the 4th Round of the 2010 June Amateur Draft from San Diego State University. In 2007, he was initially drafted out of high school in the 43rd Round by the Philadelphia Phillies, but chose to attend college instead. At San Diego State, he played for Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who has also been a big influence in his life, “Tony Gwynn helped me a lot, and to be able to work with him and his son Anthony has been a blessing,” says Vaughn.

That same summer, he started his pro career in Brooklyn and in 72 games, he batted, .307/.396/.557, with 14 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, 56 RBI, and 12 stolen bases in 313 plate appearances. He shared his experience playing in Brooklyn, “Leaving the dorms that we stayed at in an academy in Brooklyn and taking the subway all the way to Coney Island to the stadium, was honestly the best experience I had. With the culture out there; it’s fast paced, the tempo is different and just hopping on the subway, and going to Coney Island in front of all those fans, was great. Plus you have a lot more fun when you’re playing well and that was a great year I had also. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world and I had a blast,” says the standout prospect.

In 2011, he was promoted to Savannah and then moved on to St. Lucie and in 131 combined games, he batted, .255/.362/.402, with 22 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 10 stolen bases in 538 plate appearances. In 2012, he played a full season with St. Lucie and in 126 games, he batted, .243/.351/.463, with 73 runs, 25 doubles, three triples, 23 home runs, 69 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.

In 2013, he was sent to Binghamton and in June he injured his right elbow and was forced to miss about a month of baseball, “I was real nervous as soon as I got injured, it was cold, and I knew exactly what I hurt in my elbow, that Tommy John ligament,” says Vaughn. “I just had to take it for what it was, I couldn’t panic, and I couldn’t change anything about it. I had to go down to Florida to rehab, trying to get the elbow right, I didn’t want to rush it. I wasn’t going to go back out there and hurt it again, and miss the whole entire year. I had the mindset to take it day by day and just try and get my elbow better. During that time I could throw and swing a bat without pain, so when I was coming back, I just had to trust the guys who were helping me recover, and thank God it worked out. It was pretty stressful.”

MiLB: JUL 14 - St. Lucie Mets at Tampa Yankees

Upon his return, he was sent to the Gulf Coast Mets for a few weeks and then to St. Lucie, before making his way back to Binghamton in early August. With having to miss time and then making his way back, he played in 92 combined games, and batted, .252/.348/.400 with 11 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 54 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 383 plate appearances.  Clearly the injury caused him to miss significant opportunities to continue on his journey, but it didn’t keep him from following his dream.

After the season was over, he took some time off, and then participated in the Arizona Fall League. It took him a bit to get his timing back, “As soon as the season ended, I hadn’t seen live pitching and I only took some batting cage sessions; no excuses, but taking some time off and then going out there and the pitchers are throwing 95-96 mph with good secondary stuff, and my timing being off, I was starting to panic and press a bit,” shares Vaughn.

“I finally had to just take a step back and just go out there and have fun. I knew it would come back to me, and it was a blessing to just be able to play there. When I was able to look at it that way, I started to enjoy it and not panic or press, then it all started to happen for me.  During the end of the AFL season I started to hit the ball hard and play better and also meeting some guys that I played against but never met on a first hand basis, made it a blast.”

In Arizona, he played in 22 games, and batted .250/.320/.375, HR, 9 RBI, eight stolen bases and was tied for first with three triples, in 88 at bats.

Vaughn, the son of Greg Vaughn, who is a 15 year MLB vet, also shared how his parents were very important in his development and growth to becoming the baseball player he is today, “My mom was huge, and even though my dad was away playing baseball, I’d talk to him on the phone and I’d see him in the summer time, but my mom was really the one in the trenches,” says the outfield prospect. “She would help me, by taking me to practice, and when I pitched as a kid, she would get the gear on and catch me. When I started getting older, and threw too hard for her she would set up a paper bag on the fence and I’d try to hit that. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my mom. She raised me and my sister while my dad was playing ball. Later on in my career, especially now, my dad has been a huge help, but it was my mom early on.”

c vaughn

Even though the elder Vaughn was on the road 7-8 months out of the year, he was a proud father to a boy that was growing up quickly, and when the Mets signed his son to a professional contract, the younger Vaughn shared how important the day truly was for the family, “I remember this vividly, I was at home, and I was nervous, I was getting phone calls from people, like the Phillies, who called and said that I would go in their next pick in the 4th round, and I was cool and didn’t tell anybody. But then I was contacted by the Mets and was told I was going in their next pick, which was prior to the Phillies. So we were in the house watching the TV, and I didn’t say anything to my parents and family, and when the screen said, The Mets Take Cory Vaughn, my family just went nuts. My dad was excited, he was crying, and even though growing up he was pretty macho, and always the general on the teams he played for, there was never really an emotional side that I saw in him. That was the first time I had ever seen him cry. It was pretty special.”

When you read his story you get a glimpse that this is truly a special athlete, one that was born to play baseball and along the way was given the tools to succeed. The one thing that most fans do not know about the outfield prospect, and something not many could possibly figure out, but it’s what he wants everyone to know, “I feel that a lot of people don’t know that I am Type 1 Diabetic. That’s always something that catches people by surprise; they look at me and say that I’m in good shape and not overweight, but with Type 1 Diabetes that’s not always the case. It can happen to anybody. I like to put that out there, because there are a lot of kids that have juvenile diabetes, and to know that they can accomplish anything if they set their mind to it.”

Vaughn also shares that he has a pouch in his back left pocket, that people get confused about, “I take a pump, and I wear it in my left back pocket and people think that I have a cell phone or something in there, and to protect it, I slide on my right side.”

He talks about of how a certain element can cause a slight delay with his medication, “It does malfunction at least once a year; I remember when I had a game winning home run in Brooklyn, and my buddy Darrell Ceciliani dumped a water cooler on me and it went all in the pump, and it got fried up, and they over-nighted me one.” The fact that Vaughn understands the magnitude of his illness, but willing to go out there everyday and prove that anyone can follow after their dreams is priceless.

Growing up in a baseball home, most people would think that taking on the family business is almost absolute, so I asked Vaughn, if playing baseball has always been a dream, ” It’s in my blood, ever since I came out of my mother’s womb, I have pictures of me with the baseball bat, wearing Brewers stuff when we used to live in Milwaukee. The funny thing is when I was younger I didn’t realize what it was like to be running around major league fields, it was just a way of life for me, that’s all I really knew. I never took it for granted, but I was just a kid out there in the club house, eating the candy, talking with all the teammates, and running out there and having a blast. It was something really special. I’ve seen my dad play and it’s always what I wanted to do my whole entire life.”

While speaking with Vaughn I was very impressed with him and how he truly understands the game and what it will take to not only make it to the majors, but to be a very successful ball player.  He shared with me what words of wisdom his dad bestows on him: ”I was talking with my dad, and he said that I got back from the AFL, I took a week off and now we were getting back into it; the swing won’t feel the way I want it to feel, but it’s a process, we have to think big picture here, we are not thinking short term,” shares the younger Vaughn. “If I just go out there with the mindset to try and get better every single day, I think all the goals will take care of themselves.”

Cory truly has been blessed with not only the right tools to be able to play the game he loves at such a high level, but also to have the many mentors, and people who truly want to watch him succeed and attain his dream of playing major league baseball.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share his journey, and even with the Rule 5 Draft looming in a few days, I feel confident that he will be with the organization for the 2014 season and beyond, but if for some reason, he is not, whatever team he may land on, will be lucky to have a player that knows how to play the game the way it ought to be played and has been taught by the best.

cory vaughn

I asked Cory a few more questions and you can read his answers below:

David – What part of your game do you feel is your greatest asset?

Cory - I like to feel that I could do it all, but I would probably say my power/speed combo. I’m sneaky on the bases even though people look at me like I’m a bigger guy that probably moves alright, but I can cruise on the bases and I really like to go out and just run. You know just do it all, as my dad would tell me, if I’m a business owner am I going to hire someone that can do one thing and nothing else or am I going to hire someone that can do it all. That’s why I try to go out there and show off some speed, steal some bags, and I have a pretty good arm, and I can throw some people out.

David – Other than maybe your father, was there another player that you modeled your game after?

Cory - Growing up in high school I wanted to be like Matt Kemp, because he could fly, had some pop, and hit for average. So I really tried and people tried to compare me to him, and they also compared me to Derek Lee as well. But growing up I wanted to be like my dad, he hit 50 bombs in the big leagues, which is hard to do, and did it pretty much hit with power consistently. It’s tough to accomplish what my dad did.

David – On August 17, the Dave Clark and Disability Dream and Do visited the B-Mets and held the first-ever baseball camp with the team, what was your experience with the campers and did it impact your life in anyway?

Cory - That was one of the greatest experiences that I had, to see all these kids and how happy they were to be out there on the field, and playing games with us, it really put life into perspective. There were kids that didn’t have arms or hands, and they’re out there throwing the ball with their feet, and I am just sitting there amazed. You didn’t hear them complain about one thing; sometimes, as human beings naturally we are going to complain about stuff here and there, but these kids were just happy and excited to be out on the field and play catch with us. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. It was a great experience and all of us we all loved it. We all took pictures with the kids and right after we all put them up in our lockers, because that is how great the experience was.

David – What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?

Cory - Definitely Cesar Puello, one of the greatest teammates that you would ever meet. Just a nice guy, he is not about himself, really cares about other people, has a lot of tools, and is really good. He is a big physical guy, goes out there and gives everything he has. I’d be really excited about him, he has it all.

David – Is there a Met manager or coach who has made an impact in your approach to the game and helped elevate your performance?

Cory - I would have to say Wally Backman. He was my first coach in pro ball, who was a hard-nosed player in his playing days, and that is how he coached, even if it meant going hard to home plate and getting the run in. He grew up playing the game with a bit of contact, even though now a days you see people shy away from contact, but that is how I grew up watching the game so that’s what is instilled in me. Also Benny Distefano, who was my hitting coach for a bunch of years, and every single coach I have had, made an effect on me here and there.

David – With the success you have had in your time in the minors; do you feel like you are on track with the goals you set for yourself? If so, what are you expecting for 2014?

Cory - My goals have always been to get to the big leagues, and be an everyday player. Regardless of what happens, I am going to have no regrets, go in and I put my work in, play the game hard, and have fun. I’m a good teammate and the goals are to just try and get better every single day.

David – Thank you Cory for taking the time to chat with me and share your journey with the fans.  Wish you well and look forward to keeping up with you and following your career.

Presented By Diehards

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Remembering the Mets’ One-Hit Wonders Mon, 09 Dec 2013 17:48:47 +0000 fordyce

As a kid, many of us dreamed of getting to the big leagues. Chances are, if you’re reading this – you didn’t make it, either. Most of the players who ever were drafted never make it through the ranks of the minors. Of the fortunate few who make to the Majors, even fewer go onto long, successful careers. Many only have cups of coffee with a few brief moments in the sun of a Big League Diamond.

In 52 seasons, the Mets have had 26 different non-pitchers who have been One-Hit Wonders in a Mets uniform. Four of these men had MLB careers with over 200 base hits:

Emil Brown – 581 hits over 10 years with 5 teams with his final hit with the Mets

Brook Fordyce – 467 hits over 10 years with 5 teams – his first with the Mets

Gary Bennett – 408 hits over 13 years with 8 teams – #72 with the Mets

Craig Shipley – 364 hits over 11 years with 5 teams, #13 with the Mets

But there were eight different men that were truly One-Hit Wonders. There were eight Mets non-pitchers that recorded only one base hit in their major league careers. While their careers were but brief, they will always be Mets – and they should be remembered.


  • Chris Jelic - Chris played in four major league games in 1990 and recorded his lone MLB hit on October 3rd in the final game of the season at Three Rivers Stadium agains the Pittsburgh Pirates. Frank Viola would win his 20th game that day and Chris was starting in left field, batting 6th in the lineup. In the top of the 8th, Chris was leading off the inning facing Doug Bair with the Mets leading 4-3. On a 3-1 count, he hit a home run to left-center to put the Mets up 5-3 before being replaced for defense for the ninth. After crossing home plate, Chris would never play on a Major League field again.
  • Frank Estrada – Frank collected his lone hit in his single game in the Majors on September 14, 1971 – the first game of a doubleheader against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. The Mets were getting blown out 12-0 when he entered the game in the top of the 6th, replacing Jerry Grote behind the plate, catching Charlie Williams. Frank came to the plate for his first MLB at bat in the bottom of the 7th with the Mets still trailing 12-0. With two out and nobody on, he hit a single to left field off Bill Stoneman, where he was stranded after the next batter, Ted Martinez, fouled out to third. Frank had only one other major league plate appearance when he grounded out back to Bill Stoneman for the final out in the Mets 12-1 loss.
  • Greg Harts – Greg appeared in three MLB games in 1973, recording his only career hit in first big league at bat on September 15th in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium against the Chicago Cubs. He entered the game in the bottom of the 5th as a pinch hitter for pitcher Buzz Capra with the Mets trailing 5-0 in a game they would eventually lose 7-0. He stepped in against Rick Reuschel with two out and the bases empty and stroked a single to center.
  • Jay Kleven – Jay played in two major league games in 1976, but collected his lone major league hit at Wrigley Field against the Cubs on June 27, 1976. Jay entered the game in the top of the 6th inning with the Mets up 11-0 as a pinch hitter for Jerry Grote. He stepped into the batters box against rookie pitcher and future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter (who at the time was pitching in his 19th big league game with just 2 saves under his belt). With one out and two on, Jay singled to left field driving in Del Under and Wayne Garrett to put the Mets up 13-0. He took his place behind the plate in the bottom of the inning where he finished the game, catching Craig Swan followed by Skip Lockwood.
  • Mike Bishop – Mike appeared in three MLB games in 1983, and achieved his one base hit on April 20, 1983 in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of 4,041 fans. Mike started that game behind the plate, batting 6th in a lineup that featured Mookie Wilson, Ron Gardenhire, Dave Kingman, Rusty Staub, and Wally Backman. The Mets won that game 7-5 and Mike caught starting pitcher Mike Torrez, winning pitcher Carlos Diaz, and Neil Allen earned the save. Mike came to bat in the bottom of the 2nd off the Pirates Lee Tunnell with one on and one out and the Mets trailing 0-2. He stroked a double to left, sending Danny Heep to third base and scored when Wally Backman drove him in as the next batter.
  • Dave Liddell – David appeared in one Major League game. The Mets lost on June 3, 1990, a Sunday afternoon at Veterans Stadium to the Phillies 8-3 and while Sid Fernandez got beat up, lasting only 3 1/3 innings, it was Dave’s day to shine. He entered the game to lead off the top of the 8th with the Mets down 8-1, pinch hitting for Mackey Sasser. He stepped into the batters box against Pat Combs and on the first and only big league pitch he would ever see, he hit a ground ball single up the middle and into center field and found himself standing on first base. He reached second on a Kevin Elster walk. He advanced to third on a fly ball by Mark Carreon. He completed his ride around the bases on a 1-0 wild pitch and scored his only major league run. He remained in the game to catch the bottom of the 8th to catch Julio Machado. He is in the record books with a career 1.000 batting average.
  • Tito Navarro – Tito played in 12 games with the Mets in 1993, but only collected 1 hit and has a career batting average of .059. His lone hit came on September 18th at Fulton County Stadium against the Atlanta Braves when he entered the game in the top of the 10th inning as a pinch hitter for pitcher Jeff Innis. The game was tied 2-2 and Tito was facing Steve Bedrosian with two on and two out. He lined a single to right field to drive in Darrin Jackson from second base for the eventual game winning run.
  • Mike Glavine – the most recent member of our One-Hit Wonder club has a very famous brother. Mike is the younger brother of 305 game winner Tom Glavine and Mike achieved his only MLB hit in 2003, which was also Tom’s first year with the team. Mike played in 6 MLB games and in his final MLB at bat on September 28th, he got his lone hit. The Mets were playing the Florida Marlins on the next to last day of the season at Pro Player stadium and were trailing 4-0 when Mike entered the game in the top of the 6th inning as a pinch hitter for First Baseman (and current Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association) Tony Clark. He struck out swinging in his first at bat against Rick Helling, but when he stepped to the plate in the top of the 9th with two out and nobody on to face Braden Looper, he singled to center field.

Presented By Diehards

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Wally Backman To Return As Triple-A Manager Of Las Vegas 51s Tue, 03 Dec 2013 17:26:38 +0000 backman

Wally Backman will remain with the Mets organization according to what two sources told Andy Martino of the Daily News. With the Mets offering Terry Collins a contract extension, it became apparent that Backman would not be offered the job. At first it was not sure that he would return to the organization, but there was speculation that he might.

Players that I have spoken with have held Backman in high regard and that he is a great players manager. ”I loved playing for the guy, he is one of my favorite guys in the organization and I have a great relationship with him”, Darrell Ceciliani tells MMO. “You want to go out and win for him, just a great guy to play for.”

Backman led the 51′s to a 2013 Division Crown and finished the season at 81-63, and by returning for at least the 2014 season, he will be at the helm as the team looks to repeat its success.

Backman has always been a favorite player of mine and knowing that he is making a difference in the lives of the minor league players and helping to prepare them for life in the major leagues, he is a real asset to the organization.

Since Collins is signed through 2015, it is very unlikely that Backman will be given the opportunity to manage the Mets in the near future, but I still feel that if he sticks around for a few more years, and continues the success he has gained, he will eventually be at least offered a job, just not sure it will be with the Mets.

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Exclusive Interview With Mets Outfield Prospect Darrell Ceciliani Sun, 17 Nov 2013 23:17:05 +0000 ceciliani2.0_standard_352.0

The Mets signed Darrell Ceciliani in the 4th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from Columbia Basin College in Pasco, WA. In his freshman year in college, prior to the draft,  he hit .374 and helped lead the team to 44 wins and an appearance in the 2009 NWAAC Championship series.

He was sent to Kingsport and in 42 games, he batted .234/.313/.310 with 29 runs, six doubles, and two home runs in 158 at bats. I asked him what was his experience like playing in his first pro season compared to college, “Experience was great, I didn’t know what to expect. I kind of went in blind to how pro ball was, the everyday grind of it and and the work that you have to do on an everyday basis,” he continues, “in college I was playing twice a week, and you practice the other days, so it was tough to get used to. I think after my first year, I was able to adapt and know what to be ready for.  It’s a huge jump and your playing against the best of the best, because in college you may face one guy from each team that has the stuff to play major league ball, and in pro ball your facing every college teams ace,” says Ceciliani.

In 2010, he was promoted to Brooklyn, and he put himself on the map as a prospect to watch.  In 68 games, he finished the season batting .351/.410/.531, and flirted with batting .400 for the year. In June and July he batted a combined .393, but in the second half he slowed up a bit and he batted just .282 in August.  A normal batting average for most prospects, but he was on fire and was playing more than just normal. “A lot of it was my approach, being able to use all parts of the field. In college and when I was younger, it was more pull the ball, try to hit it out of the ball park, but the type of player I am; top of the order, speed guy, using the whole field, is more my approach.  I got together with Wally Backman and Benny Distefano that year and learned how to bunt, and I think I had like 12-14 bunt base hits, which also helped my batting average that year,” says the outfield prospect.


He ended his outstanding season by leading the NY-Penn League in many offensive categories.  He was named to the league all star game and finished with the highest batting average in Brooklyn Cyclones history.  He also set team records with 95 hits, 12 triples, and 56 runs scored. Darrell was honored with the New York Mets Organizations Sterling Award as the top player at his minor league level.

In 2011, he was moved to Savannah and in 109 games, he batted .259/.351/.361 with 62 runs scored, 23 doubles, four triples, four home runs, 40 RBI’s, and 25 stolen bases in 421 at bats. In 2012, he had a down year which was a result of multiple leg injuries that made it difficult for him to play a full season. “I pulled my hamstring on four different occasions; I’d come back each time, maybe too soon, and couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I ended up going to a specialist and they figured out that my hips were out of line. So we came up with a workout regimen to help keep my hips in line and keep my hamstring strong. I finished the season by playing the last 12 or 14 games and then I went to the AFL and felt great ever since. In the 23 games, he batted .329/.402/.459 with six doubles, one triple, and one home run in 85 at bats.

Fully healed from his leg ordeal, he was sent to the B-Mets for the 2013 season and in 113 games, he batted .268/.322/.380, with 61 runs, 17 doubles, six triples, six home runs, 44 RBI’s and 31 stolen bases in 418 at bats. He also enjoyed a 17-game hit streak in July where he batted .470 (31 for 66) in the stretch.

Another talented minor leaguer within the organization that has had an amazing pro career thus far, and at only 23 years old, its only the beginning.

Enjoy our conversation:

David – Is there something that you would like to share with the Mets fans that they do not already know about you? Your interests, hobbies outside of baseball?

Darrell - I love hunting and fishing, anything outdoors mainly in my offseason.

David – While playing baseball at Columbia Basin College, who can you say was a major influence in your baseball career?

Darrell - My dad has always been a major influence; he would tell me to set my mind to something and go out and try to do it and compete.  I have always wanted to play professional baseball from the time I was little, and he always encouraged me to keep playing, especially that you never know how far it would take you, and to enjoy it while you can. At college, my head coach and the asst coach were huge influences in getting guys to come and see me and scout me; to try and get my name out there in the professional level.

David – Did you have a favorite player growing up and if so, did you model your game after him?

Darrell - My favorite player growing up was Ken Griffey Jr. A lot of kids my age, he was their favorite player also. He did it all, played the game hard all the time, was a great defender, and was an exciting player and just fun to watch.

David – On the day that you were signed by the Mets in 2009, what was your reaction and who was the first person you shared the news with?

Darrell - It was a dream come true.  I always hoped I would get the opportunity to play pro ball, and when I got the phone call from the Mets, I was excited and it was just a surreal feeling, something I always dreamed of doing.  I was taking a  final in college, and my dad and my coach actually called me, and told me the news, and I ended up finishing the final real quick and met up with both of them.

David – On August 17, the Dave Clark and Disability Dream and Do visited the B-Mets and held the first-ever baseball camp with the team, what was your experience with the campers and did it impact your life in anyway?

Darrell - It was just awesome working with the kids; you know they don’t have the opportunity to go out and do some of the things we get to do but they got to go out and play baseball and hang with us for the day. It was awesome just knowing we could help them in that sense. The way I looked at it is, it’s a blessing and a gift for us to go out and compete and play baseball for a living and just not to take it for granted.

David – What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?

Darrell- It would be Noah Syndergaard; the way he keeps his head on his shoulders, where nothing seems to rattle him. He obviously has all the tools to be a great major leaguer. But the way his mental approach is towards pitching in the game, is pretty good for how young he is, and he will be really good.

David – Is there a Met manager or coach who has made an impact in your approach to the game and helped elevate your performance?

Darrell - Wally Backman and Benny Distefano, who I had as a hitting coach for three years, really helped in my approach; how to go about the game, and to handle your business the right way. Also Luis Natera was my hitting coach this year and that really helped me with just little technical things in my swing.

David – Do you feel like you are on track with the goals you set for yourself? If so, what are you expecting for 2014?

Darrel - I feel like I am on track; obviously the goal is to make it to the major leagues, move up a level each year and try not to stay stagnant in the same place. Also mainly to stay healthy and stay on the field; you can’t go anywhere if your on the shelf. I felt like 2013 was a big step towards that.

David – Moving forward, what stands between you and the big leagues? What do you specifically need to work on as a player, and improve upon, in order to be ready to compete on the big stage?

Darrell - Improve every part of my game; I need to cut down on my strike outs, walk a little bit more, be more selective at the plate, and just more consistency. I sometimes get out of rhythm, and I start getting a little too aggressive, instead of settling down and letting the game come to me.

David –  How will you prepare over the winter; can you describe your workout regimen?

Darrell - With the workout regimen, I take some time off and after about a month, I’ll start working out 3-4 times a week, to stay in shape, through the holidays. I’ll hit a little bit after thanksgiving and start to hit it hard for about 2 months, where I’m also training in speed and agility, and with weights usually 4-5 days a week, just to be ready to go by February.

David – Thank you Darrell for sharing with me and our readers your journey. 

(Photo Credit- Gordon Donovan)

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Nationals Officially Announce Matt Williams As Their New Manager Wed, 30 Oct 2013 17:28:59 +0000 MW_photo_darker

The Washington Nationals officially named Matt Williams as the team’s manager on Thursday, agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract with the five-time All-Star and former Arizona Diamondbacks coach.

“I am thrilled to welcome Matt to our organization and am confident he is the best choice to lead the Nationals at this time,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He is exceptionally prepared for the task. Matt came into the interview process already possessing an extensive knowledge of our organization: our roster, our Minor League system – and our fan base.

“He has genuinely creative, unique ideas on how to increase performance, and on cultivating leadership and team unity.”

Williams, 47, comes to the Nationals after four years on the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff, the last three as their third base coach. Williams becomes the organization’s fifth manager since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005.

“I saw first-hand the leadership qualities he possessed as a player, on the field and in the clubhouse,” said Rizzo, who was a part of the Diamondbacks front office for seven years before joining the Nationals in 2006.

“I think it’s great,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said of the hire. “He’s a younger guy who was a good player and knows the game. I’m looking forward to getting to know him a little bit… I don’t think we were too far away from where we needed to be, and I think we’re all looking forward to next year.”

As a player, Williams was no stranger to the postseason. He played on six playoff teams and appeared in the World Series with the Giants (1989), Indians (1997) and Diamondbacks (2001), winning a World Series ring in Arizona. He is the only player in baseball history to hit at least one World Series home run for three different teams.

In addition to his coaching duties with the Diamondbacks, Williams managed in the Arizona Fall League in 2012, leading the Salt River Rafters – which included several of the Nationals’ top prospects – to the AFL Championship Game.

Williams will replace the retired Davey Johnson.

Bench coach Randy Knorr will remain with the Nationals as their bench coach under Williams. He has had three stints on Washington’s coaching staff, including spending the last two years as bench coach under Johnson.

(Updated 10/31)

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