Mets Merized Online » Zack Wheeler http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Feb 2015 01:16:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 DePodesta Discusses Improved System, Top Prospects, Draft Strategy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/depodesta-discusses-improved-system-top-prospects-draft-strategy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/depodesta-discusses-improved-system-top-prospects-draft-strategy.html/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:13:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174082 paul-depodesta

Mike Vorkunov (NJ.com) recently discussed the Mets’ minor league system and prospectswith VP of Player Development and Scouting, Paul DePodesta. Here are some exchanges that stood out. You can read the full article here.

The main theme being targeted here is the position player depth that is rapidly rising through the system.  The Mets were built heavily on pitching at the start of Sandy Alderson’s tenure, but now have a healthy balance of power arms and bats.

Vorkunov: Baseball America’s top 10 prospects came out and the lower half is filled with players mostly in A-ball.  How do you feel about the lesser experienced half of your farm system?

DePodesta: As we looked at it maybe 3-4 years ago, we felt we had some pitching.  We certainly wanted to add to that pitching, but we really wanted to focus on some position players. We had to create another wave of players, not only through the draft, but also through international signings.  I think those bottom five probably reflect that strategy.

Thoughts: DePo is referring to players like Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Dominic Smith, etc. who were drafted very highly overall, there’s a wave of high upside talent in the bottom five, most of whom are still extremely young (6. Amed Rosario, 7. Michael Conforto, 8. Rafael Montero, 9. Marcos Molina, 10. Gavin Cecchini).

Rosario continues to make a name for himself in the minor leagues and he’s done so without compromising his status at SS.  Many scouts still believe he’ll grow into his frame, but he’ll maintain the athleticism and instincts to stick there in the majors.  Cecchini struggled at times in High-A St. Lucie and although he made the top 10 for BA, others are high on Jhoan Urena, a third base prospect drafted in 2011 who has begun to rise in prospect rankings.

Vorkunov: Where do the position players stand in proximity to the major league level?

DePodesta: You look at guys who at least could certainly be ready for Triple-A at some point… Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds will both certainly be there. Dilson Herrera made the leap from Double-A straight to the big leagues. He certainly could play in Triple-A. Brandon Nimmo spent the second half of the season last year in Double-A.  He could certainly be Triple-A ready.  So those are four of our better guys.  Three of them in the top 10 according to Baseball America.  And they could all be in Triple-A at the same time in 2015.They’re very close.

Thoughts: Michael Conforto is expected to have a rapid ascension through the minor leagues as well.  Brandon Nimmo is closer to MLB than him at the moment, but Conforto entered the Mets system a more refined major league ready player who merely needs to prove he can handle the pitching as he advances.  The mechanics and hitting tools are all there, for Conforto it is more about protocol and proving he can execute correctly at every level.

That being said, it’s unclear how many of these prospects could contribute in the midst of a playoff push.  Daniel Murphy may very well be a Met for all of 2015, while Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer are expected to be a big part of the team’s success this year and next. It’s doubtful any everyday room will be made for prospects like Nimmo, but he is one of the many that is certainly close.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds though, there are players blocking their paths, but it’s not written in stone.

Vorkunov: How do these rankings match with internal evaluations?  Are there guys who haven’t been talked about as frequently publicly, but should be higher rated?”

DePodesta: Sure, I think that always happens.  But we don’t have to publicly rank our players. We’ll group them into sort of different categories of what we think they could potentially be… We put them in position where they can get at-bats.

Jacob deGrom was never rated very highly. Juan Lagares was never rated very highly on our prospect lists. I think there are always players that we think highly of or are close to taking their game to another level, which could fundamentally change the perception of them, especially externally.

Thoughts: The lack of performance at the major league level or injuries, has given quite a few prospects the opportunity to showcase their talents when they would otherwise be shelved in the minors.  It’s the natural progression of baseball, or really an opportunity in life, where timing meets talent and a star is born as in the cases of deGrom and Lagares.

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As far as the current rankings though, I think it’s difficult to find a pair of pitchers more talented than Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in any farm system in baseball.  I think the Met internal rankings are in line with that of the public, at least as far as 1 and 2 go.

All and all, anytime we get to admire the wealth of talent in this team’s farm system, it’s a rare positive moment for Mets fans.  The Alderson regime still has much to prove at the major league level, but as far rebuilding a depleted farm system with high upside talent, the drafting and development this front office has employed should be considered top notch.

Much, if not all of that, can be attributed to the coaching staffs assigned to developing players at each level, but still, there’s an uncanny rate of success that the Mets are having with prospects these days and it should be recognized.  Out of names like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Vic Black, etc., the team is experiencing a high rate of players translating at the higher levels, if not the majors already.

To me, it’s clear that this team will have an entirely different public image in 2 to 3 years.  It’ll be exciting to see if this organization can win a championship with all of this mostly homegrown talent.  With no promise for a brighter financial status on the horizon, this organization’s only hope for sustained success relies mostly on our minor league pipeline and it looks to be moving in the right direction.

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Mets Are Well Positioned To Dominate In Their Division http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mets-are-well-positioned-to-dominate-in-their-division.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mets-are-well-positioned-to-dominate-in-their-division.html/#comments Sun, 04 Jan 2015 19:12:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172586 lucas duda david wright

It’s so easy to look at the Mets’ offseason so far and shrug your shoulders when asked if they did enough to snap their streak of six consecutive losing seasons – the longest active losing streak in baseball.

The ultra-optimistic Met fan will point to rebound seasons by David Wright and Curtis Granderson as reasons for a return to relevancy in 2015. Others say that getting Matt Harvey back will have the same impact as adding a Jon Lester to the rotation.

The ultra-pessimistic Met fan will say that giving $21 million to a 36-year old Michael Cuddyer and sacrificing a first round pick, smells a lot like the Moises Alou fiasco and will probably yield the same results. They say a middle infield combination of Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores will spell doomsday for the rotation and kill any chance to best a .500 finish.

The hopeful see the Mets winning 90 games and advancing to the postseason. The downtrodden see another losing season that hinges on way too many “if” scenarios and not nearly enough certainty.

While I wish the Mets could have done more this offseason, I do believe we not only will snap our cold streak, but with a little luck we might even nudge our way into a wild card spot. Even the latest World Series betting lines are looking increasingly good for the Mets. I know that sounds insane to a lot of you, but keep an open mind and hear me out.

As I take a good hard look at the NL East as a whole, there’s a good argument that every team in the division got worse while we improved, even if the improvement was incremental.

I think we can all agree that the Braves and Phillies are now in full rebuild mode and will be battling for last place.

The Marlins have certainly made some noise, but have hey gotten any better? It’s debatable. You could say Dee Gordon was certainly an improvement at second base, but at what cost? Martin Prado is an upgrade over Casey McGehee, but it’s not as big an upgrade as you think. The Marlins lost two of their top three young pitchers for these upgrades in Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi. Can you imagine us trading Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard for upgrading shortstop from Ruben Tejada to Gordon, and right field from Chris Young to… to Marlon Byrd? That’s basically what they did.

The Nationals have done nothing this offseason and so far have lost a huge part of their offense in Adam LaRoche, plus they’ve lost Asdrubal CabreraNate Schierholtz and Ross Detwiler. They traded for a minor league second basemen and signed about 6-7 players to minor league deals. That’s it. This team is significantly worse than last season’s version.

So back to the Mets. Yes, Cuddyer comes with a lot of risk but you can’t say he isn’t a significant upgrade over Chris Young. And even if just one of Wright or Granderson delivers a big bounce-back season, it’s still an improvement, right? And what of Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores? Is it that much of a stretch to assume at least two of them will improve on their 2014 numbers? And yes, getting Harvey back is also a huge factor.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, this Mets team, as currently constructed, is not only headed for some definite improvement, but they’ve also taken a huge step forward within their division and that’s a fact you can’t ignore.

We are also blessed with some incredible depth in the high minors that can step in right away if help is needed. That hasn’t been the case for most of the last six years.

So for all these reasons I really believe we are well positioned for a very significant season in 2015 and you don’t have to look very hard to see why.

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2015 Breakout Pitcher: Zack Wheeler http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/2015-breakout-pitcher-zack-wheeler.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/2015-breakout-pitcher-zack-wheeler.html/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 14:00:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172381 zack wheeler

Christina Kahrl of ESPN lists righthander Zack Wheeler among her 10 Breakout Pitchers for 2015.

“He doesn’t have Jake deGrom’s hair or Matt Harvey’s panache, but the Mets will happily settle for another top-shelf starting pitcher in what might quickly develop into the best rotation in the division within the next year or two. Yes, including the Nationals. Or the Marlins’ rotation of the moment, assuming everyone’s healthy.”

“In the second half, Wheeler really came into his own, goosing his whiff rate beyond one per inning, and he generates a lot of ground-ball outs on his hard slider, curve and four-seam fastball (you read that right).”

“If the Mets had a premium glove at shortstop to compensate for Daniel Murphy’s shortcomings at second, Wheeler would be a quick, easy bet for dominance. In the meantime, count on better run support in 2015 to help him generate a better record as he comes into his own.”

If there’s one thing I’d like to see Wheeler improve on it’s reducing his pitch counts. His final start of the 2014 season was a typical outing for Wheeler, using 107 pitches and lasting just five innings in a loss to the Nationals. He allowed three runs that night on four hits and three walks while striking out seven.

He certainly has the plus stuff, but Wheeler needs to be more efficient if he wants to get to that next level.

Wheeler ended last season with a 3.54 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP and a 187:79 K:BB ratio over 185.1 innings pitched.

He’s often been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, but it’s very unlikely he gets dealt in my opinion. Wheeler has seen all the rumors and he hopes to still be with the Mets come Opening Day.

“I’ve been through it before,” Wheeler said at an event last month. “I know it’s a business. I’d rather not get traded and stay here because I know what’s about to happen here. … If you’re human, you can only look at our staff and say ‘They’re going to make it to the playoffs here soon.’ ”

“I came from the Giants and saw what happened over there. They have a lot of homegrown talent. They’ve won three World Series. It sort of puts a bitter taste in my mouth, and now I want to do it over here and show them a little bit.”

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Alderson Shifts Gears, Now Looks To Free Agency For Shortstop http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/alderson-shifts-gears-now-looks-to-free-agency-for-shortstop.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/alderson-shifts-gears-now-looks-to-free-agency-for-shortstop.html/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 00:44:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171433

Speaking with reporters at the Winter Meetings, Sandy Alderson shifted gears again and now says it’s more likely the Mets acquire a shortstop upgrade via free agency, rather than the original plan which was to execute a trade using the Mets’ pitching depth.

This certainly changes a lot for the team, who had several high end, team friendly options to build a trade around. But the issue was always the asking price for the Mets. The Cubs wanted more than one front end starter for Starlin Castro, who was an All-Star three out of his first four full seasons in the league, but lacked the complete set of tools worth the caliber of a pitcher like Zack Wheeler or Jacob deGrom.

In a different age and time, both of those pitchers would have been a reasonable asking price for a high end offensive minded shortstop like Castro. Today, the game is evolving quickly from power hitting to power pitching and Alderson wisely held on to his most valuable assets.

The Mets have drafted, traded for and groomed some incredible prospects, and so far many of them have panned out and met the hype surrounding them. Again, it’s the timing that makes it so special too.  Just take a look at the Atlanta Braves as they scramble to restructure their organization. They’re assembling a team that resembles that of the Mets, Marlins and Nationals; power pitching complimented by offense, not the other way around.

The shortstop situation now likely includes names like Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew although Lowrie and Drew would be strictly for defensive purposes with Cabrera being the complete opposite.  Truthfully, a strong defensive minded shortstop to couple with Juan Lagares up the middle could give the Mets a combination of pitching and defense that could vault them into contention.  A healthy and productive David WrightCurtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer would also do wonders to support this pitching and defense for an overall balanced attack.

Sandy Alderson also shot down statements made by Terry Collins suggesting that Ruben Tejada would be competing with Wilmer Flores for the starting shortstop job this Spring. “I guess conceptually it’s a possibility.  They’ll both be there.”

Honestly, I get the impression from Sandy that he’s hard at work while those around him are hard at work making his work harder.  In those moments, he’s had a sense of humor and if you sit back and think of how frustrating it must be for him to manage and change the perception of this team, you have to give the man some credit.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how all of this ultimately plays out for the Amazins.

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MMO Fan Shot: Don’t Be Shy Sandy… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-dont-be-shy-sandy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-dont-be-shy-sandy.html/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 03:58:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169449 sandy alderson

An MMO Fan Shot by Matt Stephens

It has become evident at this early stage in the off-season that the Mets will not be major players in the free agent market. For the first year in many, that choice isn’t simply because of funds, but simply out of who is available, or better yet who is not available. I agree with the assessment that Michael Cuddyer is not worth our draft pick. Hanley is not much of a shortstop anymore, and all the top players available are starting pitchers, just what we don’t need.

With the possible exception of Yasmani Tomas, the Mets cannot and should not look for answers in the free agent pool. There is no need to pay Asdrubal Cabrera or Stephen Drew a ton of money to provide production close to what Wilmer Flores will give us over a full season for minimum wage. We can all agree that Michael Morse and Alex Rios are not the bats that fit into the middle of our lineup. Rios’ power seems to have dried up, and Morse is a poor defender and struggles to stay on the field. As much as I like Tomas, we can’t go all waste our limited money on a player that hasn’t touched a major league field yet. There are proven commodities all over the place, on the trade market.

Sandy Alderson’s experience in trades as Mets GM has been limited. His trades have been from the standpoint of a struggling team selling off top pieces and building for the future. He knew he was getting top prospects in return, but the question was just which prospect. Admittedly he has proven to be very savvy in these negotiations. I recall conversations where the Giants claimed that Zack Wheeler was absolutely untouchable. We were preparing to settle for Gary Brown, who has played in just seven major league games. Syndergaard was a throw-in piece in the deal for R.A. Dickey. We were really excited about Travis d’Arnaud, but Sandy got us Syndergaard as well. A steal for sure, especially after proposals regarding Mike Olt were considered. However, when dealing with a situation from the opposite perspective, he has not had any experience, at least as Mets general manager. Now is the off-season where that should change.

Alderson’s notable deal for a big name player came when Sandy ran the Oakland Athletics. He flipped three prospects who never reached the majors in exchange for Dennis Eckersley. Eck changed the role of the closer forever and won a Cy Young award as an Athletic. Alderson’s re-acquisition of Rickey Henderson in 1989 also came at a low cost, as he gave up on players who would not become anything special. It has been a long time since Alderson traded for the big name, the star, the player that changed the team. But after years of rebuilding and reconstruction, the Mets have reached a time where it is time for them to make a trade. Otherwise, they are giving up on all the progress they have made and just hoping for the best. I wouldn’t be shocked, but they can’t do it. Of course the question is, what do the Mets have, and what can they get back?

It is no secret that the Mets have a glut of Major League quality pitchers. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero could all be found in MLB rotations come next spring. I have understood the over-protection of our pitchers in the past, but now with 8 ready starters, the time has come to let some of the horses free. I’d venture to say that the only “untouchables”, (I hate that word but…) are deGrom and Harvey. Those two have years of team control left and have proven that they are top quality MLB pitchers. Sure I like Zack Wheeler, but he was very streaky in 2014, and if teams are going to ask for him, I’d be willing to give him up, just as I would Gee, Colon, Niese, Syndergaard, or Montero. The Mets don’t need all those pitchers, we also have our catcher in d’Arnaud and can trade Plawecki. Daniel Murphy is likely to walk after the season and we’d be foolish not to trade him now. What they need is a hitter, an impact hitter.

There are bats all around the majors that could help right now. I could offer up phantom proposals regarding Yoenis Cespedes, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Jose Bautista, Alex Gordon, hell, I could tell you how the Mets could land Giancarlo Stanton, but that isn’t my job. You can play with what-ifs all you want, but it means absolutely nothing until something happens. The responsibility falls on our lovely owners and old Sandy Alderson. I am absolutely positive that there are packages that can be put together that will bring that missing impact hitter to New York, and help us reach the playoffs, and maybe even win a title. At some point dream scenarios and possibilities have to end, and reality and risk-taking has to begin. I simply don’t want management to wimp out when they have a real chance to change the fate of our franchise.

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

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Looking Back At Colon Deal, Looking Ahead To 2015 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/looking-back-at-colon-deal-looking-ahead-to-2015.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/looking-back-at-colon-deal-looking-ahead-to-2015.html/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 12:00:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169051 bartolo colon

Last year’s free agent class included quite a few short term deals for starting pitchers. Mets GM Sandy Alderson signed 41-year old righthander Bartolo Colon to a two year $20 million deal last winter and the veteran proved to be a durable workhorse who led the Mets this season with 202.1 innings pitched. The deal itself served a purpose and proved useful in 2014, but over the scope of the full two years, it now looks like more of an obstacle, despite the underlying need for insurance within the rotation.

The Mets are built on young power pitching. The rotation of the future may eventually come full circle this year, by that I’m including top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Couple those two prospects with a font line that includes Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and a healthy Matt Harvey, and the Mets’ best case scenario is a beauty. However when is it reasonable to make decisions based on best case scenarios?

With all the 20-something power arms the team has under control, there’s an element of durability and experience that’s missing from that group of young men. There’s such an intense focus within the Mets community on finding a power hitter while the future of the rotation is being buoyed by lofty assumptions. It’s assumed that Harvey will return without a hitch, but even if he did, the Mets will likely follow an innings limit plan that mimics the program administered for Stephen Strasburg. Jacob deGrom was dominant down the final stretch of the season, but even he served time on the DL with what turned out to be nothing more than fatigue from an increased workload in the majors. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee have been mainstays in the middle of the rotation for several years now, but between their 10 combined seasons (not including rookie years), only three have amounted to more than 185 innings.

If Colon’s purpose was to secure innings around a fragile, inexperienced group, it seems premature to be shopping the remaining year on his contract this winter. The $11 million left on the deal has proven difficult to move off the books, which is understandable considering he’ll be 42 next season. Also, his inaugural season with the Mets wouldn’t necessarily warrant that salary either. Bartolo ended the year with a 4.09 ERA and nearly 1 home run per 9 innings of baseball (0.98), by comparison, his deal may not have been the best fit of all the free agent candidates available.

In hindsight, Phil Hughes‘ performance in 2014, as well as his contract, made much more sense for the Mets in many facets. In his first year out of pinstripes, Hughes revived his once promising career as a Minnesota Twin. He was a better pitcher than Colon and the numbers clearly illustrate this. Compared to 2013 with the Yankees, Phil had 16 wins (+12), 4 losses (-4) and 209 innings pitched (+64) for the Twins this year. The 2014 WAR he posted of 6.1 was fourth best among qualified starting pitchers in the majors. His home run per nine innings rate (HR/9) dropped by 53%, resulting in a more aggressive approach around the strike zone and a massive 73% reduction in walks per nine innings (BB/9).

In reality, all Sandy wanted was a solid innings-eater for half a season, with the understanding that if he wasn’t moved off the books by the All-Star break, it wouldn’t cripple the team’s 2014 season. The gamble in giving Colon that second guaranteed year was banking that the contract could be moved before 2015 when Harvey would finally rejoin the rotation. That has come and gone and now the real hurdle will be executing what is perceived to be the original plan and shop Colon heavily during the winter meetings. The general feeling is that the Mets can retain a balanced mix of hard throwing youngsters and experienced veterans before the remaining prospects are fully developed, but this will put the Mets out of budget to acquire an offensive upgrade. Which brings us to this current conundrum.

A team with as much young talent as the Mets have right now… A team that’s now strong enough to start talking about being a contender… A team like at this given point in its evolution needs a healthy amount of operating room (financial flexibility) to strike when the time is right.

This Mets pitching staff could play out a number of different ways over the next two to three years, but one thing is clear. The Mets now have most of the pieces in place to overcome the final hurdle and vault themselves into contention. But it may also require a willingness to add a high value free agent(s), even if it means a contract in upwards of three years in length.

Does this mean completing the final piece of the puzzle with a round of reckless spending? Of course not. Spending doesn’t always have to be reckless, just ask the Cardinals, Orioles and Giants. Perhaps the missing piece isn’t even out there right now, that’s for the front office to decide. But the point I’m trying to make is that it’s reasonable to expect this level of dedication and commitment from ownership and the front office if in fact this latest 90 win mandate in 2015 has any real backbone or truthfulness to it.

Lets! Go! Mets!

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Beltran Could Have Altered Fate For World Series Teams http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/beltran-could-have-altered-destiny-for-world-series.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/beltran-could-have-altered-destiny-for-world-series.html/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:11:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168353 beltran

The trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler set off a chain of events that could have impacted the fates of both the Giants and Royals.

Beltran went on to sign with the Cardinals during the following offseason and then signed a three-year deal with the Yankees before the 2014 season. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, teams were convinced that Beltran would land with the Royals, the team that he came up with a decade earlier.

“When it happened, I cried. Because I was emotional,” Beltran told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com back in 2012.

“I signed with the Royals, I came up with the Royals, I had many years in that organization. But at the end of the day, those types of moments make you stronger as a person and make you understand a little more the game of baseball and how things happen. Baseball is a business, big business.”

How different would the playoff landscape look right now if that had been the case?

Wheeler could be getting ready to pitch game three or four for the Giants while Beltran would undoubtedly be one of the best hitters on the opposing team.

Obviously the trade has nothing to do with either players path. If Beltran wasn’t traded to the Giants, it doesn’t mean he would have been any more likely to end up in Kansas City years later. Still, the connection between the two players exists.

Beltran’s homecoming was thwarted by the three-year deal the Yankees offered him and Wheeler will be a part of the Mets stellar rotation for years to come.

It’s clear now that the Mets won that trade, as the Giants failed to make the playoffs in 2011, losing Beltran to free-agency the year after, while the Mets will end up getting seven years of service from Wheeler. Both could have been playing in the World Series this year had their paths been different.

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MMO Trade Target: Starlin Castro, SS http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-trade-target-starlin-castro-ss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-trade-target-starlin-castro-ss.html/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 03:00:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167295 Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres

The Mets have a solid foundation of pitching to go with a young core of position players, many of whom emerged as stars in 2014.  The team is no longer looking to rebuild, their disenchanted fan base has high expectations and a New York based franchise stocked with farm talent should have no trouble making a high impact acquisition in the offseason. In all reality, the winter spending is questionable, although team COO Jeff Wilpon did state that payroll flexibility is available going into 2015.  Regardless, the Mets minor league system is so rich in power pitching that almost any team should be open to making the right deal.  It makes more sense to seek out the best talent in the league first before signing someone out of a weak free agent class.

If the Mets are going to part ways with blue chip prospects, it should net a return that will hurdle the team into contention.  The player should be young, approaching the peak of their power range and under a team friendly contract for multiple years. The “Red Sox Model” of investing in mid-premium talent works when your home ballpark turns routine fly-outs into doubles and doubles into home runs, but Citi Field’s dimensions don’t offer that luxury. Enter Starlin Castro.

The Cubs’ 24 year old shortstop is a flat out stud at his position and his 2014 performance was certainly worthy of his third All-Star selection. Among all qualified major league shortstops, Starlin was 1st in batting average (.292), 2nd in OBP (.339), 3rd in SLG (.438), OPS (.777) and wOBA (.341). If you look at the list of qualified shortstops under the age of 30, Castro is number one in all those categories.  

In 134 games (season shortened by a sprained ankle), he posted 14 home runs (5th) and 65 RBI’s (7th). He played 161 games in 2013 and 162 in 2012, so it’s reasonable to expect an uptick in those figures if he’d played a full season.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Mets struggled to hit the ball with men on base this season and it was undoubtedly the difference in a long list of close games that resulted in missing the playoffs for an 8th straight season. Castro’s bat has the stats to qualify him as a difference maker in this category. For his career (2010-2014), he has a (.297) batting average and a (.342) OBP when men are on base.

Equally important is the fact that his production doesn’t dip at Citi Field. It’s rare for any player not wearing a Nationals uniform to maintain their home field production in Flushing, so how does Castro stack up?  Starlin played his first game at Citi Field in 2011 and has posted encouraging numbers there since. His career (.304) batting average and (.429) slugging percentage at Citi deviates in an upward direction from his overall career numbers, but only slightly, and certainly not enough to be considered skewed.  His ability to hit for average with plus power in Queens should be the most relevant stat line of them all.

The cost is where the debate lies. The asking price in assets is going to be steep and it should be, Castro is a top young talent at a premium position for a relatively cheap price. The five years and $43 million left on his very team friendly contract comes with a one-year option for 2020, when he’ll only be 30.

The Cubs aren’t going to settle for a straight up one-for-one trade because that would be a clear signal that GM Theo Epstein is unfit for his job. Realistically, they’ll want some combination of a highly touted front end starter (Zack Wheeler/Jacob deGrom/Noah Syndergaard) and a not quite elite, but still top prospect (Rafael Montero/Steven Matz). The Mets might be able to work a Kevin Plawecki into the conversation in order to take one of the top end starters off the table, but the Cubs aren’t totally devoid at catcher and they’re deep at every other position on the field, so it’ll likely come down to strictly pitching.

The Cubs’ bullpen ranked 15th in ERA and gave up the 8th most earned runs in the majors this season, so a top end reliever could be a piece, with a front of the rotation starter, to push a deal  over the top. But that depends on the value Chicago will get initially. For instance, any deal that includes Matz as the second piece instead of Montero is probably where the Mets will end their offer.

My Take

It’s not just the production Castro would bring, but the attention he would take off of David Wright, who desperately needs to revitalize his output after an injury riddled season that included a number of career lows. Having Starlin in the #2 hole with Lucas Duda cleaning up behind him would create a lot of opportunities for David, who has carried this offense plenty of times before. There’s lots of time left to evaluate all the options the Mets have, but if Sandy Alderson is going to acquire a proven top talent at shortstop, Castro is where the conversation should start.

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5 Potential Mets Offseason Trades http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/5-potential-mets-offseason-trades.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/5-potential-mets-offseason-trades.html/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 15:00:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167121 daniel murphy lucas duda

After finishing the season at a respectable 79-83 the New York Mets have some work to do in order to bolster a beleaguered offense that ranked 13th in the National League in batting average and 12th in slugging percentage. At the moment the only legitimate power threat in the Mets everyday lineup is Lucas Duda after a breakout season in which he hit 30 home runs.  Now General Manager Sandy Alderson and his regime must find a way to get Duda some protection, which is hard to imagine considering the mess of a situation first base was last spring training, but yet here we are.

The Mets have a lot of organizational depth when it comes to starting pitching so they should not be afraid to deal one or two arms away if it means improving the offense. Here are a few trades that Alderson could potentially seek out.

corey dickerson hr

Rockies Receive Jon Niese for Corey Dickerson

Corey Dickerson had a breakout year in 2014 for the Colorado Rockies hitting 24 home runs in 131 games. Some may scoff at the idea he is a legitimate power threat considering his home games are played at Coors Field. However, he did hit 32 home runs while playing in the SALL, the same league Mets affiliate the Savannah Sand Gnats are associated with, in 2011. His home and road splits may scare some off but if Dickerson could be a 20-25 home run hitter with a .275 batting average while playing average defense in left field it would be a perfect fit for both teams.

Additionally the Rockies have stated they want to bring back Michael Cuddyer, which would leave Dickerson without a position, and have been very reluctant to engage in trade talks regarding Carlos Gonzalez. Jon Niese has trade value at the moment but recent fatigue has to be worrisome for the Mets. Not dealing him this offseason when his value is as high as it ever will be would be a mistake.

Braves Receive Noah Syndergaard, Daniel Murphy for Jason Heyward

This is a tricky trade especially because it is dealing with in-division rival the Atlanta Braves. Who ever the Braves hire to be the new general manger will surely be looking to mix things up after an awful collapse in the second half. Jason Heyward will be a free agent after next season thus giving the Braves more incentive to deal him this offseason. Murphy would help a Braves offense that struggled scoring runs ranking 14th in the National League.

Many Mets fan do not like the idea of trading Daniel Murphy because he seems to have figured out how to hit in Citi Field however Wilmer Flores or Dilson Herrera will be viable, and cheaper, options to replace him. Noah Syndergaard is a top 10 prospect in all of baseball but with the emergence of Jacob deGrom he is more expendable this offseason. With Heyward manning right field for the Mets they would easily have the best defensive outfield in the major leagues.

starling_marte1c

Pirates Receive Kevin Plawecki, Rafael Montero, Jack Leathersich for Starling Marte

The Pirates will most likely lose starting catcher Russell Martin this offseason due to free agency which would leave them in a very difficult spot, that is where the Mets come in. Starling Marte would be exactly what the Mets need, batting leadoff mixed with speed to steal bases while also playing a strong left field defensively. Kevin Plawecki will be one of the top rated catching prospects going into next year and will have immense trade value. Currently the Mets seem very comfortable with Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate, granted defensively he needs work, leaving Plawecki without a position on the big league team after a solid 2014 campaign in double and triple A.

The Mets may need to include some more prospects in a deal for Marte considering he is under contract until 2021 but Rafael Montero has showed signs of being a solid middle rotation starter and Plawecki seems major league ready. Also, Jack Leathersich could develop into a valuable left-handed reliever if he gets his control in order but at the moment, just like Plawecki, does not appear to have a spot on the Mets.

Phillies Receive Dillon Gee for Domonic Brown

It was most likely a mistake by the Mets not dealing Dillon Gee last offseason when his trade value was high. After a lackluster 2014 season Gee is on the outside looking in for the 2015 Mets starting rotation. He would be a solid addition to a Phillies pitching staff that ranked 12th in ERA in the NL. Considering Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has given no inclination into starting a rebuild this would make sense. Domonic Brown is only 27 and the Phillies have stated their desire to trade him. Brown, similarly to Gee, underperformed this season after hitting 27 home runs in 2013 and can not be a free agent until 2018.

This would be more of a last resort move for the Mets in terms of fixing the left field situation. Brown has the talent but needs an attitude adjustment, with the guidance from veteran leaders Curtis Granderson and David Wright he could potentially turn into a solid middle of the order bat.

Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres

Cubs Receive Zack Wheeler for Starlin Castro

Zack Wheeler was everything he was hyped up to be in 2014 and then some. Wheeler and Matt Harvey as your 1 and 2 starters going into next year would be phenomenal but the Mets are in dire need of an everyday shortstop. Thats where the Cubs, who lack young starting pitching, and Starlin Castro come in. Castro has been knocked for his hustle and attitude but most of that has been blown out of proportion, remember he is only 24-years-old. Castro proved that his 2013 season was a fluke and that he is clearly one of the top offensive shortstops in the major leagues. He is also signed until 2020 with a price tag that is low, due $6 million in 2015, considering his production level.

Trading Wheeler would be difficult because watching him grow into a dominant major league starting pitcher this season was exciting to watch. If the Cubs offered the Mets this deal there is no way they could turn it down. Castro would be a mainstay for years to come at a position that is crucial if a team plans on contending and being successful.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Hot Hand Luke http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-hot-hand-luke.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-hot-hand-luke.html/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:00:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166894 daniel murphy lucas duda

The New York Mets wrapped up their 2014 campaign at Citi Field yesterday, taking two out of three from the Houston Astros to finish 79-83 on the year. The Amazins’ concluded their final two games with authority as they head into a highly anticipated offseason. Below are the series takeaways in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

1. In front of a crowd of nearly 35,000 fans, which included his parents, Lucas Duda smashed his 30th home run of the season and rounded out one of the most hysterical dugout celebrations I’ve ever seen on television. The two-run jack was his 14th at home this year, the most by any player at Citi Field in a single season and it was a total no-doubter. To witness a player discover his power stroke in Flushing, in a lineup where he is the protection, is just remarkable. For the series, Duda hit (.333), slugged (.917) and totaled an OPS of (1.250) to go with his 6 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.

2. Matt den Dekker turned in one of the best series of his brief Major League career, going 4 for 10 (.400) with an RBI and a run scored. The majority of writers, fans and critics believe the Mets would benefit from another power bat in the lineup and feel that left field is the most logical position for such an acquisition. However, den Dekker put up a strong fight towards the end season to throw his name in the conversation. In the month of September, he hit .328, got on base at a .426 clip and posted an .858 OPS. After being in center for the majority of his amateur and professional career, den Dekker made great adjustments defensively and played a strong left field. An outfield tandem of den Dekker in left and Juan Lagares in center is about as ‘lock-down’ as you can get. I’m probably in the minority here, but barring any overwhelming offers, I’d like to retain the pitching we’d use to trade for an outfielder and watch Matt back them up in left.

bobby abreu3. In the 5th inning of yesterday’s game, Bobby Abreu knocked the 2,470th hit of his 18 year MLB career. Immediately after, Abreu left to a standing ovation as Eric Young Jr. came in to pinch run for the veteran. Citi Field sent the former All-Star off with a warm and joyous applause, but many see this as merely the beginning of Abreu’s career as a Met. The front office believes he had a positive influence on the many young call-ups in search of guidance this season and find his offensive approach to be identical to the organizations hitting philosophy. MLB.com’s Tim Healey summed up the end to Abreu’s storied career nicely, noting that he “was playing against the organization with which he got his professional start (the Astros), playing for the team against which he collected his first big league hit (the Mets), and playing under the same manager as when he was a 22-year-old September callup in 1996 (Collins).” Congratulations Bobby, may all the good fortune that followed you as a ball player continue in the next chapter of your life.

3 Down

1. Jon Niese battled injuries and discomfort all season and ended up leaving Friday’s game early with the return of an accelerated heart rate. Overall, Bartolo Colon was the only Mets pitcher to reach 200+ innings this season. Zack Wheeler came close at 185.1 and despite the fact that he remained healthy all year, he consistently suffered from high pitch counts that forced him to routinely exit games in the 5th or 6th inning. Dillon Gee was also no stranger to the disabled list. Matt Harvey will be coming off of Tommy John Surgery and undoubtedly be under an innings limit and Jacob deGrom, aside from an outstanding rookie campaign, battled shoulder soreness with a stint on the DL. For a team that is grounded in its young starting pitching, there’s a component of durability that’s certainly missing.

2. The Mets did tie for second place, but did so with a losing record for the 6th straight season. The club hasn’t made it to the playoffs in 8 straight seasons now and aside from the “additions” they’ll be getting from the disabled list, it doesn’t appear that much will change heading into 2015. If the team can stay healthy all season, I think we have the pieces to be relevant, at least in the wild card standings, but I hope the front office has a better back up plan than AAA Las Vegas should the youth initiative fall through next year.

3. The season is over with and I’ll still be paying an outrageous cable bill even though I’ll have nothing to watch. Here’s to Spring Training 2015, down in Port St. Lucie.

A special thank you to all those who followed along with 3 & 3 this season, I learned a tremendous amount from all of those who added their input. I also realized that expanding my thoughts on the Mets through MMO is a true passion of mine, so a special thank you to Joe D and all the MMO staff for allowing me to be a part of such a great entity. The writing was as therapeutic as the season was frustrating, but I would not have enjoyed 2014 as much as I did had it not been for Mets Merized Online.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Mr. September and the Keystone Kid http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mr-september-and-the-keystone-kid.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mr-september-and-the-keystone-kid.html/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:06:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166626 Curtis - Granderson

As our beloved New York Mets played their final series in the capital this season, the Nationals continued to work towards locking up the best record in the National League.  The Mets only took 1 of 3 from their division rivals, but there were positive takeaways despite losing the series.  Below is a breakdown in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

1. Back in late August, it was easy to speculate that Curtis Granderson would be the next free agent bust to hit Flushing, but the veteran outfielder maintained a positive attitude and strong work ethic, which has helped transform him into a doubles hitting, RBI machine.  Since the first of the month, Curtis is hitting (.329) with a (.980) OPS that’s being heavily bolstered by his (.566) slugging percentage.  He’s adapting to the needs of his current team and abandoning the high strikeout/high home run player he was across town.  If Granderson’s current month was stretched over a 150 game season (conservative figure), he’d have 50 doubles, 7 triples, 21 home runs and 114 RBI.  That’s exactly the type of player the Mets should pay $16 million for next season.  Whether he maintains a pace like this next season is highly debatable, but his mid-summer and fall statistics offer enough fuel to counter the negative predictions.  Overall, Curtis slashed out a series line of (.455/.500/1.045), with 3 RBI’s to go with a run scored.

2. Wilmer Flores is an entirely different player as a second baseman.  His range improves drastically in comparison to his reps at shortstop and his plus arm is a tool that finally has the Mets rounding out routine double plays.  In 15 games (54 at bats), Wilmer is batting (.296) while boasting a monstrous (.593) slugging percentage.  Wilmer’s (.321) OBP sits barely above his batting average, so he isn’t walking much when his glove is played at the keystone.  Instead, he’s opted for the conventional route of putting some wood on the ball, giving him 10 runs scored and 8 RBI’s in those 15 games.  Flores continued his playing time at second this series and actually turned in the exact same results as Granderson, posting a line of (.455/.500/1.045).

3. Jeurys Familia was outstanding in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader, pitching a perfect 8th inning and striking out the side. Familia owns a 2.27 ERA to go with 71 strikeouts in 75.1 innings this season.  The other setup relievers have been excellent this season too, including Vic Black, Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin. It’s not yet known if Bobby Parnell will return as closer in 2015, but Jenrry Mejia has handled the role admirably and he has been ferocious against left-handed batters.  Whatever happens, the Mets will have one of the youngest and brightest bullpens in all of baseball next season and that’s a huge relief.

3 Down

1.  Injuries absolutely kill this team year in and year out.  It’s reasonable to expect some unscheduled absences during the season, but ask yourself this question, how many players have put in a full season?  For the starting pitchers, only Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon have remained healthy since Opening Day.  For position players, only four Mets have a qualified number of at-bats and only two have played more than 150 games (Lucas Duda has 150 and Curtis Granderson has 152).  We learned during this series that David Wright suffered structural damage in his left shoulder which he played through for the most of the season, and it could be more serious than the Mets originally thought. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has been no stranger to the disabled list as well and now he’s undergoing tests with team doctors in New York for an unknown elbow injury.

2.  There are numerous ways to frame statistics and come up with hypothetical scenarios, but consider this “what if”.  What if the Mets went .500 against the Nationals this year?  Actually, they played an odd number of games this season, 19 in total, so let’s say they went one game over .500 and posted a seasonal W-L of 10-9.  In that case, the Mets 2014 record would stand at 83-76 and they would still be in the hunt for the last wild card spot.  Instead, NY finished the season 4-15 against their division rivals.

3.  Let the Matt Harvey media circus resume.  During the nightcap of yesterday’s doubleheader, news broke that recovering ace Matt Harvey was at Yankee Stadium for Derek Jeter’s final home game.  It’s true that these kinds of actions raise more questions than most Mets fans want answered, but it’s going to be a bigger story than needs to be.  He’s proven that he’s a competitor no matter what uniform he puts on and Matt’s locked into the Orange and Blue for the next four seasons.  Derek Jeter’s last home game is an iconic moment for Yankee fans and Harvey has openly admitted that Jeter is his idol growing up and favorite player.  It could very well signal where he intends to go in the future, or it could just be a 25-year old guy, living in New York City, going to the only baseball game in town.  Sandy Alderson made the rules, which included staying behind when the team traveled for road games, and to the best of my knowledge that didn’t change when the Mets shut down Harvey for the season.  He knew exactly what he was doing and did it anyways.  That’s the beast the Mets have to live with, incredibly talented, but lacks the foresight to cater to a sensitive organization.  Hopefully, Harvey leads the Mets to a World Series title in the next four years, but the bottom line is that I could care less where he goes and what he does on his free time.

addicted to mets button

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 7, Nationals 4 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-game-recap-mets-7-nationals-4.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-game-recap-mets-7-nationals-4.html/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 21:09:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166532 dillon geeThe Mets (77-81) beat the Nationals (92-65) tonight by a score of 7 to 4 in Washington.

What you should know:

It was nice to see the Mets win a game that was as back and fourth as this one. The game was tied twice before the Mets broke through in the 8th inning for good.

Carlos Torres earned the win in relief of Dillon Gee who pitched ok in his final start of the season. Gee went 5 innings, striking out just one batter. The nationals got 9 hits and scored 4 times off of him. Torres’ one scoreless inning earned him the win. Jenrry Mejia earned his 28th save of the year.

The Mets scattered 15 hits throughout the game with Wilmer Flores, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Kirk Nieuwenhuis all had multiple hits with Matt den Dekker landing the finishing blow. His 8th inning RBI single put the Mets ahead for good. He scored later that inning to extend the lead.

Juan Centeno, who started for the injured Travis d’Arnaud, was hitless in the game.

This was just the 4th win of the season for the Mets against the Nationals.

On Deck:

The Mets conclude their series with the Nationals in the second half of their split doubleheader tonight with Zack Wheeler (11-10, 3.49 ERA) taking on Gio Gonzalez (9-10, 3.74 ERA)

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3 Up 3 Down: Braves Get The Broom http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-braves-get-the-broom.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-braves-get-the-broom.html/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:41:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166297 wilmer flores dilson herrera

The Mets are finishing up on a strong note and played a great series down in Atlanta this weekend. Below are the usual takeaways in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

jacob degrom1. The starting pitching was excellent in this series, particularly the guys making the league minimum, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom. Wheeler went 6.0 innings, allowed 5 hits, struck out 7 batters and held the opposition scoreless. It was Zack’s 21st quality start on the year, the most among Mets starters in 2014. It was also his 11th win, pushing his record over the .500 mark with only one start left on the year. deGrom was stellar as well, going 6.0 innings, allowing 3 hits and one earned run while striking out 10. What else can be said about deGrom at this point? He’s a stud and along with Wheeler and Matt Harvey, the Mets will have one of the best rotations in all of baseball next year.

2. Curtis Granderson is finishing up the year strong. The veteran went 5 for 10 in the series (.500) and posted a 1.615 OPS. In the month of September, Curtis is batting .308, slugging .569 and getting on base at a .400 clip. He also has 13 RBI’s to go along with 12 runs scored during that time frame.

curtis granderson3. Lucas Duda hit his 28th home run of the year in yet another crucial situation to put the Mets ahead 2-0 in the sixth inning of Friday’s game. While it’s easy to admire Duda’s raw power, he still doesn’t get enough credit for how talented an offensive player he is outside the home run department. A perfect example was Saturday’s game, where Lucas went 0 for 3 at the plate, but still contributed an RBI on a sacrifice fly and drew a walk to get on base. Overall, Duda posted a .333/.357/1.024 triple slash line for the series.

3 Down

1. Dilson Herrera was having a great series before straining his right quad in the 6th inning of Saturday’s 4-2 win. His two run blast down the left field line was the difference in that game, but unfortunately, it looks as though the prized prospect might not return for the remainder of the year. There’s a lot of logical reasons why injuries like this happen, but every year I find myself questioning this training staff. Again, I’m not saying injuries, particularly in the leg, don’t happen, but it seems nearly impossible for players on this team to muster a full season without hurting themselves. I wish Herrera a quick and speedy recovery and if this was the end of his 2014 campaign, it was certainly a success for the 20 year old.

travis d'arnaud2. Travis d’Arnaud has to make immediate changes to how he positions himself behind the plate. I touched on mechanical improvements that he needs to make in the offseason in the last 3&3, but this needs to happen now. In this series, d’Arnaud once again got hit on the head with a back swing and was shaken up for a quick second. Luckily he was able to move on without a hitch. This is a major concern though, he already has a history of concussions that stem from this and it doesn’t seem to be improving. There are only so many times he can have his bell rung before it impacts his career. The Mets need to prioritize this and protect one of their top young stars.

3. This is a bit of a reach because it’s hard to gripe about anything, in particular when the team sweeps a division rival and all but ends their playoff hopes in the progress, but it’s a shame Matt Reynolds didn’t get a call-up to finish out the season. With Herrera and David Wright out, now would have been the perfect time to see Reynolds at shortstop and Wilmer Flores at second. The current lineup obviously is clicking, but giving at bats to Ruben Tejada doesn’t help the organization assess its internal assets heading into 2015.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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Zack Wheeler Joins A Special Strikeout Club http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/zack-wheeler-joins-a-special-strikeout-club.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/zack-wheeler-joins-a-special-strikeout-club.html/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 13:03:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166174 zack wheeler strikeouts

On Friday night, Zack Wheeler struck out seven Atlanta Braves in six innings en route to his 11th victory of the season.  In doing so, he upped his career strikeout total to 264, passing Matt Harvey by three.  It is worth noting that Wheeler has not yet made 50 starts in the big leagues, as Friday’s seven-strikeout effort came in his 48th start at the major league level.

While it is true that several Mets pitchers have struck out more than 264 batters in their first 50 starts with the team, for many of them, those weren’t their first 50 starts in the big leagues.  For example, Sid Fernandez had 297 Ks in his first 50 starts as a Met, but his first start in the big show came in 1983 as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Similarly, Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana both had over 300 strikeouts in their 50 starts with the Mets (332 and 310, respectively), but of course, neither pitcher began their career in New York.

By posting 264 strikeouts before his 50th career start (with all starts coming as a New York Met), Wheeler has joined some exclusive company.  Here is the list of all pitchers in Mets history who recorded 250 or more strikeouts in their first 50 starts (or fewer, in some cases).  We are only considering those pitchers who made each of their first 50 starts as a member of the New York Mets, so a pitcher like David Cone – who made his major league debut with the Kansas City Royals in 1986 pitching exclusively in relief – can be included on the list, since each of his first 50 big league starts came in a Mets uniform.  Also, we are only looking at strikeouts recorded in starts.  Strikeout totals compiled in relief appearances (as well as innings pitched in relief) are not included in the chart below.

Pitcher

No. of Starts

Innings Pitched

Strikeouts

50

364.2

418

David Cone

50

356.0

297

50

372.0

270

Zack Wheeler

48

280.1

264

Matt Harvey

36

237.2

261

50

382.1

251

Zack Wheeler has become just the sixth pitcher in Mets history to fan 250 or more batters within his first 50 big league starts.  And look at the other names on the list.  You have the three winningest pitchers in franchise history in Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and Jerry Koosman.  You have David Cone, who was traded away before his 30th birthday, but still managed to become the team’s all-time leader in strikeouts per nine innings and is also one of just four pitchers to make at least 100 starts for the team and finish his career with a .600+ winning percentage.  (The others are Gooden, Seaver and Rick Reed.)  And of course, you have Matt Harvey.  Barring any setbacks from Tommy John surgery, the 2013 All-Star Game starting pitcher should become just the second pitcher in team history to record 300 or more strikeouts within his first 50 starts in the majors.  He needs just 39 strikeouts in his next 14 starts to become Doctor K’s understudy in that department.

Now, as great as Wheeler has been in getting those whiffs, he has tended to throw a lot of pitches to get said Ks.  Gooden, Cone, Koosman and Seaver all averaged at least seven innings per start in their first 50 big league starts, while Harvey is just under six and two-thirds innings per start.  Even if Wheeler pitches complete games in both his 49th and 50th career starts, he will still be under 300 innings pitched.  That’s less than six innings per start.

Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman and David Cone are among the best pitchers in club history.  Prior to his injury, Matt Harvey appeared to be on his way to joining them.  Zack Wheeler still needs to work on his command before he can be considered one of the best pitchers to ever don a Mets uniform.  But for now, he is becoming one of the best strikeout pitchers the club has ever seen.  And by joining Seaver, Gooden, Koosman, Cone and Harvey, he’s certainly in a class that very few Mets starting pitchers have had the privilege to be a part of.

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Mets Mathematically Eliminated From Playoffs, But Can Sill Shoot For .500 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mets-mathematically-eliminated-but-can-sill-shoot-for-500.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mets-mathematically-eliminated-but-can-sill-shoot-for-500.html/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:39:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166154 terry collins

It’s over. The Mets have been mathematically eliminated from post-season contention as they play out the last eight games of the 2014 season.

“We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to,” Terry Collins said after Friday’s 5-0 win over the Braves. “We certainly came out of spring training with high hopes of putting together a nice run. We just never seemed to get it going. That’s been the biggest disappointing thing, because if you can’t get it going, playoff runs are going to end.”

“We’ve competed. We’ve competed very well. And now it’s a matter of next year trying to go in with a realization that, ‘Hey, look, we are going to be good enough.’”

With a 74-80 record the Mets still have a shot at finishing at .500 and avoiding a sixth straight losing season. It’s a daunting task needing to win at least seven of the final eight, but that would be a nice accomplishment for them. Plus they can still finish as high as second place in the division if it all pans out.

It doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it would be a definite psychological boost, great for the team’s morale, and also a solid lesson in finishing strong and playing hard for the younger players.

“We aren’t done playing,” said Zack Wheeler after his solid effort last night. “Obviously we can’t get first anymore, but we’re going for the second spot. It’s good to bear down right here and finish out the season strong going into next season.”

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Time To Put Up Or Shut Up As Nats Roll Into Town http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/time-to-put-up-or-shut-up-as-nats-roll-into-town.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/time-to-put-up-or-shut-up-as-nats-roll-into-town.html/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:46:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165507 terry collins

It’s time to put up or shut up for Terry Collins and the Mets, and though they’ve been one of the hottest teams in baseball this month, it’s not like they’ve been beating juggernauts.

Winners of four in a row and seven of eight, their good fortune has come against the National League’s worst Colorado Rockies and the hapless Cincinnati Reds who aren’t too far behind them.

The Mets have now pulled to within 5 1/2 games of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second wild card, but still have five teams they have to leapfrog to get there. So not only must they keep winning, they have to hope all the other teams start folding.

The bad news is that the Washington Nationals head to Queens for a four game set, and all they’ve done is win 11 straight games against the Mets in Citi Field. In fact, going back to the 2011 season, the Nationals are 25-4 at Citi Field.

The Nationals have owned the Mets this season, winning 10 of their 12 contests and outscoring the Amazins 62-34 in the process.

The Mets have been thriving due to strong efforts from their starting pitching these last two weeks, but tonight the real test begins. Here are the probables:

Thu: RHP Bartolo Colon (13-11, 3.96) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (12-10, 2.97), 7:10 PM

Fri: RHP Dillon Gee (6-7, 3.74) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (8-9, 3.78), 7:10 PM

Sat: RHP Zack Wheeler (10-9, 3.38) vs. RHP Doug Fister (13-8, 2.53), 7:10 PM

Sun: LHP Jonathon Niese (8-10, 3.59) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (11-5, 2.93), 1:10 PM

You want to keep claiming you’re in the hunt and legitimate contenders? Then lets see you take three of four this weekend. Make me a believer.

I’ll leave you with this little nugget of hope. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that only two teams that were under .500 with 16 games or fewer remaining in their season came back to make the playoffs.

One of those teams were the 1973 Mets, who were under .500 with nine games remaining.

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Harvey Says He’ll Be Ready For Opening Day http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/harvey-says-hell-be-ready-for-opening-day.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/harvey-says-hell-be-ready-for-opening-day.html/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:50:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165493 USP-MLB_-All-Star-Game matt harveyOne of the key pieces of the 2015 New York Mets will be a healthy return to the mound for Matt Harvey. The young ace will play a key roll in helping turn the Mets into a winning team in the coming years and that begins on Opening Day 2015. Appearing on WFAN’s Boom and Carton on Thursday morning, Harvey assured us that he is 100% confident he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

This is obviously great news for Mets fans but is something we expected. Generally speaking, Tommy John surgery knocks you out for about a year. A little over one month from now, on October 22nd, we will reach Harvey’s one year mark. “Everything is healthy, everything is normal” Harvey told WFAN.

Earlier in the month it was reported that Harvey and the Mets front office disagreed on the speed of his rehab. While he felt he was ready to face live pitching, the Mets shut him down so that he can have some extra rest during the offseason.

“I’m completely on board with whatever the doctors and Sandy Alderson have planned.” Harvey seems to be on track and locked in on Opening Day. With Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee falling in behind him, 2015 could be an incredible year for pitching in New York.

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Wheeler Impresses Again, Might Be Wise To Lock Him Up http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/wheeler-impresses-again-might-be-wise-to-lock-him-up.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/wheeler-impresses-again-might-be-wise-to-lock-him-up.html/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:00:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165183 zack wheeler

On Sunday, Zack Wheeler took the hill and gave the Mets a superb effort, limiting the Reds to just one run in 6.0 innings of work and striking out six along the way. It was by all accounts another great effort from the second year pitcher as he earned his 10th win.

The one part of Wheeler’s game that needs to be fine tuned is his efficiency. He’s letting big innings chip away at his pitch count and has gone seven full innings in just one of his last 14 starts. He seems to stall continuously in the 7th inning.

“We’ve reduced the pitch counts — that has to do with how many innings are out there,” Terry Collins told the NY Post’s Mike Puma. “But Zack’s last outing in Miami we didn’t exactly play real good behind him, so his pitch count got up higher than we wanted. But there are certain times they deserve the chance to get through an inning once in a while.”

Wheeler has thrown 325 pitches over his last three starts. As the season begins to wind down it is no surprise that the team is keeping tabs on one of their prized young aces.

“We’ve got to finish the season with this guy healthy. He’s shown way too much promise here and we cannot go into next season with a sore shoulder or sore elbow” Collins added.

Wheeler is taking this season in stride. With Matt Harvey set to return in the spring, the two could team up to form a formidable duo at the top of the Mets rotation.

“I feel fine body-wise. Who could ask for anything more, I guess” Wheeler said after the game.

Keeping Wheeler healthy heading into the offseason is now the priority for Collins and the rest of the Mets front office.

Thoughts from Joe D.

As far as I’m concerned Zack Wheeler has crossed over into the untouchable category. I still see his name pop up in various offseason trade speculation to acquire a bat. No thanks. Unless it’s for Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton and you all know that’s not happening.

In his last 13 starts, Wheeler is 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 81.1 innings pitched. Opposing batters are hitting just .215 during that span. Overall, he is 10-9 this season with a 3.38 ERA.

Someone brought up a good idea in the threads last week, and that is locking up Wheeler through his arbitration years and perhaps even buy out a year of his free agency. Sort of like we did with Jon Niese. It could save us some big bucks down the road.

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 4, Reds 3 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-game-recap-mets-4-reds-3-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-game-recap-mets-4-reds-3-2.html/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 21:00:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165158 zack wheeler

The New York Mets (68-75) took the rubber game on Sunday from the Cincinnati Reds (67-76) by a score of 4-3.

What you should know:

Zack Wheeler pitched another solid outing for New York, as he went six innings, allowing one run on five hits, while striking out six and walking two.

The Reds got on the scoreboard first this afternoon, with a Skip Schumaker single up the middle that scored Mat Latos.

The Mets answered back in the top of the sixth inning with an RBI single from Curtis Granderson that scored Wilmer Flores.

Two batters later, Anthony Recker launched his 6th home run of the season, a two-run shot off the facing of the second deck in left field, putting New York ahead 3-1.

curtis granderson

Curtis Granderson added on to the Mets lead in the top of the eighth inning as he hit his 18th home run of the season, and his second of the series.

Jenrry Mejia came on in the bottom of the ninth, and was rudely greeted, as he surrendered a solo home run to Jay Bruce and a RBI double to Ryan Ludwick, cutting the score to 4-3 Mets.

Mejia walked Billy Hamilton to put the tying and winning runs on base with only one out. After a pop out, Mejia induced a ground ball from Todd Frazier who was originally called out at first, and would have ended the ball game.

But after video review, the play was overturned, meaning the bases were loaded for red hot Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco struck out, and the Mets held on to win the game, with Mejia earning his 24th save of the year.

Player of the Game: 

Zack Wheeler, who pitched great today again and earned his tenth win of the season.

On deck:

The Mets start a ten game homestand tomorrow night at Citi Field, starting with a three game series against the Colorado Rockies with Jon Niese (8-10, 3.68 ERA) squaring off against Jordan Lyles (6-2, 4.35 ERA)

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3 Up, 3 Down: The Kids Are Alright http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-the-kids-are-alright.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-the-kids-are-alright.html/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:32:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164908 MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets

The Mets finished up their three game set against the Marlins with a 2-1 series victory last night. New York has an interesting parallel with their division rivals from Miami, in that both organizations have dwelled at the bottom of the NL East cellar for many years now, but through those years they also stockpiled young, athletic players with the potential to be stars. Let’s see how the Met’s youngsters stacked up in this edition of 3 Up and 3 Down.

3 Up

1.  Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are a stellar defensive unit in the outfield, they’re fast and fearless, but that speed and tenacity has transitioned recently at the plate. Of the three, I’ve been most impressed with den Dekker as of late. The indictment against Matt has always been that his offense may never develop enough to give his glove an everyday spot in the lineup. I’m only evaluating a small sample size, but MDD is showing improvement in areas that project future success. Mainly, he’s reverted to a shorter, more compact swing, allowing him to turn on pitches quickly. He’s also showing vast improvements in his plate discipline. In his first 12 games in August, he was seeing an average of 12.4 pitches per game. In his last seven, that number has gone up to 16.4 pitches per game, with a 22% increase in strikes. His walk rate has remained relatively flat, but now Matt is seeing better pitches and taking better swings. The results are fantastic as den Dekker left Miami with a triple slash line of .545/.615/1.252, plating a run, swiping a base and scoring twice. His defense holds up pretty well to his counterpart in center field as well.

2.  Juan Lagares is no stranger to Mets fans at this point. He continues to improve in every facet of his game, becoming more of a student, while retaining his ‘hair on fire’ style of play.  Lagares took tremendous strides in this series and gave us a glimpse of a superstar in the making.  First base coach Tom Goodwin has challenged Juan to transition his speed in the outfield to the basepaths and unsurprisingly, it’s been a success. Juan had three stolen bases in three attempts against the Marlins this series. In his last six games, he is 5-for-5, as Goodwin at times has forced him to steal. Lagares noted that he had previously been hesitant given the duress on his hamstring, but at 100%, he seems unstoppable. Prior to his recent streak, he was 4-for-7 all year. It also seems that the coaching staff is making a unique case for Lagares’ approach at the plate by ditching the one-size-fits-all philosophy and building on Juan’s strengths. Pitchers began to recognize his ability to hit balls on the outside of the plate, so they started going inside to him. Lamar Johnson worked with Lagares to pull the ball on the inside and it translated into home run power. Opposing pitchers are once again pitching him low and outside the strike zone and Juan has adjusted nicely by continuing to drive those balls to the opposite field. Tuesday, Lagares put his talents on exhibition, going 4-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Overall, the center fielder batted .500 with an OPS of 1.105 in South Beach.

3.  Little “d” on the mound and behind the plate, means a W in the books. The battery duo of Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud has produced a team record of 5-3 in the games they start together, allowing a meager 1.07 walks/hits per innings pitched. Last night kept pace with that production, as deGrom went 6.0 innings, allowing only one earned run while striking out six.  He has lowered his ERA on the season to 2.87 and kept his name hot in the hunt for Rookie Of The Year.  Meanwhile d’Arnaud (the little ‘d’ is killing my auto-correct) continues to emerge as one of the top offensive catchers in the league. He already leads all rookies in home runs with 12, but had a great series, giving his pitchers a boost on offense. Travis produced a triple slash line of .500/.571/1.155 this series and is now a point away from having a .300 OBP and .700 OPS on the year, which is fairly remarkable given his woes prior to returning from AAA Las Vegas. Consistency is the name of the game for the youngsters, it’s the only true measurement of projecting sustained success in the future, and these players named so far have done a great job making the future very bright.

3 Down

1.  Pitching was atrocious for the most part in this series, which for the Mets, has been their strength all year.  Zack Wheeler was fortunate enough to have minimal damage done to his ERA, as it now sits at 3.45.  He only gave up two earned runs in Monday’s loss, but as a whole, he allowed five runs total while he was on the mound. Wheeler again turned in a brief outing, going only 4.2 innings with five hits and two walks, using 114 pitches to get through it all.  Zack clearly has the material to be an ace, but he has yet to figure out a way to keep his pitch counts down and go deeper into games.  Pitching coach Dan Warthen has got to prioritize this and reverse the trend or Wheeler may never reach his full potential. Jon Niese remarkably was able to walk away with a win on Tuesday, thanks entirely to an eight-run offensive outburst by his teammates (Jon did go 1-1 with a run scored to be fair), but he still surrendered 10 hits and six earned runs.

2.  Errors absolutely killed this team.  Jeurys Familia is a relief pitcher, so I’m slightly less aggravated by his two errors in the series, although they were total blunders. Dilson Herrera committed two errors in his three starts and David Wright also had a pair in the series, giving him 15 on the year. Wright is a seasoned vet and a former gold glover, although watching his errors gave me hope and disappointment simultaneously. Hope, because they had nothing to do with injury or lack of range. Disappointment because he was back on his heels when he committed a fielding error and he wasn’t squaring his body up when he made a poor throw. When David struggles from injury, I’m probably his biggest apologist and have been all year. This series was not a good display of The Captain leading by example though.

3.  In game decision making by the manager, in my opinion, cost the Mets their only loss in this series and could have cost the team another loss last night as well.  In the top of the 7th of a tie ball game on Monday night, Terry Collins made an offensive switch to bat Eric Campbell against lefty reliever Mike Dunn, taking Matt den Dekker out of the game.  Conventional wisdom agrees with Collins’ move here, but there were different elements that immediately made me feel like this was a poor choice.  The Marlins were producing runs all night, using all parts of the outfield to knock out base hits. Den Dekker is clearly the better defensive choice, and had also been producing at the plate that night too. In a game where the Mets pitchers were getting lit up, it made sense to leave den Dekker in. The result was Campbell flying out to center and in the following frame he dropped a ball he dove to catch in left field, It was the beginning of an error-filled meltdown. Hindsight is 20/20, but den Dekker was playing great that night and he undoubtedly would have made that catch. This isn’t a knock on Soup, but he’s not an outfielder. I also understand situational hitting, but at the same time, this is supposed to be a developmental period for our up and coming youngsters.  All position players who are looking to lock down a job in 2015 should be tested in all situations across nine innings of baseball to see what they’re really made of. As for last night, leaving Carlos Torres in to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth, instead of pinch-hitting Curtis Granderson, was a dangerous choice that just barely paid off. The entire reason behind that decision was so that Torres could face Giancarlo Stanton in the bottom of the eighth. The result?  Stanton cranked his 36th home run of the year, a magnificent bomb to left field.  Again, this is another case of hindsight after the fact, but I was baffled when I saw Torres toss a batting helmet on.  If it weren’t for a slick defensive play by Lucas Duda to rob a rocketed baseball off the bat Marcel Ozuna and end the inning, it most certainly could have backfired.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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