3/1/17

Tom Brennan - REMARKABLE METS PITCHING

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Tom Brennan - REMARKABLE METS PITCHING

The Mets are the pitching-rich organization with 7 killer starters: Thor, deGrom, Matz, Harvey, Wheeler, Lugo and Gsellman.  If all are healthy, the best Mets’ starters collectively, ever.  Take that, 1986.

The Mets in 2015 also traded away an army of 10 or more pitching prospects (including the great Michael Fulmer) to get Cespedes and other offensive pieces, and also lost Matt Bowman in Rule 5 after 2015.

It is logical to think that, since almost no key pitchers pitched in the first several spring games through Tuesday, that the 2nd tier must be so thinned out after all those deals that the remaining lousy, stinking, 3rd string bums are getting pummeled, right?

Wrong. 100% wrong.

In fact, FOURTEEN GUYS had pitched and not allowed a run, totaling 34 IP.

Lugo, Conlon, Molina, Knapp, Smoker, Reed, Montero, Robles, Roseboom, Rosen, Sewald, Taylor (Corey), Taylor (Logan), and Wilk had combined for 34 IP, just 10 hits allowed, 7 walks, and 24 Ks.  

Jeepers. Jumpin' Jiminy. Remarkable.

Of the Mets’ top tier pitchers, only the Mets’ 7th starter, Lugo, had more than an inning, with 5 IP.  The only other regulars (Reed and Robles) had just an inning apiece.  The other 11 wannabe bums had 27 scoreless innings.  Wow, some bums, right?

Rafael Montero, whom everyone has cast into the fans’ dustbin, has 4 perfect innings and 6 Ks.  He appears to be back, and perhaps in a normal year, he’d have a real shot at # 5 starter.

Knowing (as Gomer Pyle does) that it is early, early, early, only one word sums all of the above up so far – REMARKABLE.



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Mack – 2017 Mets Forecast

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Good morning.


A bunch of us Mack’s Mets writers are putting together their thoughts and forecasting what and where the Mets will be this 2017 season. I always love doing this and I always seem to have one general theme… gloom and doom.

I’ve learned my lesson over time to not get too excited in February. No one has torn a muscle yet, or popped a shoulder, or even skinned a knee. The pitchers are especially going to start off slowly and some every day players, like David Wright, may not play quality innings until mid-April. Spring training is always a good time for management to get a look at some of the kids that have moved up the pipeline. 

We all think Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson have watched all these players throughout their Mets career, but it simply isn’t true. I covered the Savannah Sand Gnats from 2007- 2012 and I never saw one Mets General Manager make a trip to the Coastal Empire.

No, this is the time of the year when I am the most conservative, and yet, all around me people have this team going all the way this year. This includes other bloggers, Mets beat reporters, and national writers that cover all of baseball. I wish I could join all of you that believe that 2017 is the ‘Year Of The Met’. I don’t share in that opinion. What I see is a transitional year that will begin once the dreaded old-bones injuries start, mostly with the usual suspects we have got used to when I post ‘medical updates’ on the site.

So, this begins my forecast. A lot of disappointment, a fair amount of good news, and a difficult time to get to the playoffs.

Rather than going position to position, let me give you my good news first.

1.     I see P Noah Syndergaard becoming the starter in the All-Star game, establishing himself solidly as a Cy Young candidate, and possibly pitching so well that he prices himself out of working out an extension before his arbitration years set in. I am sure Sandy and Company will do everything they can to put together a deal for Thor well past his scheduled first free agency year of 2022.  This is a very special pitcher in the Tom Seaver mold and you need to glue yourself in front of the television every time he pitches.

2.     I’m not a big fan of offering a contract extension to anyone until they are about the enter their first arbitration year. Only Syndergaard and P Hansel Robles qualify for this at the end of this season and Robles first free agency year is 2021, one year before Syndergaard. I see Robles establishing himself in the 2017 bullpen which may feature many critical injuries. He’s always had the talent and velocity… all he needs to do is find the plate.

3.     I see P Robert Gsellman establishing himself as the ‘new deGrom’ of this team. He simply is going to have to pick up the rock again and fill in for multiple pitchers that will either be placed on the disabled list, or traded off at the All-Star break. I look for a Gsell-big year here.

4.     I see  SS Amed Rosario, 2B Gavin Cecchini and 1B Dominic Smith batting their way out of Las Vegas by the All-Star break. In addition, I believe that OF Michael Conforto will prove he should be playing every day and all four of these guys will begin a brand new era for the Mets bats.

        Frankly, past this, I don’t see too many stars in the sky. Oh sure, there will be Harvey and deGrom victories, but I don’t see either one of them having great years for different reasons. And Wheeler? Well, I believe the dream that he would become a factor in major league baseball just may be over. I expect him to really struggle and end the year pitching in Las Vegas. 
   
        Batting wise, at various times of the season, we will see the end of David Wright and Jay Bruce. Wright will do everything he can to keep in this game but it just isn’t going to happen. The Mets will finally find a home for Bruce, which will allow for Conforto to become a full time player next to Yoenes Cespedes.  

         As  for Lagares, Cabrera, Walker, Reyes, Rivera, d’Arnaud, and Granderson, they will simply under-preform throughout the season. None of these guys are any longer stars of this game. They just aren’t. 

        You’ve already read my win-loss and division standing prediction. I can’t see the Mets winning more games than the Braves and definitely not more than the Nationals. Coming in third in the division will do nothing for their chances to make the playoffs. 

         What I do see is the beginning of a new era of young, talented everyday players that will be around for many years to come, complimented by a very solid rotation of Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz, Gsellman, and Lugo. 
      
         Waiting in the wings… a trade of Matt Harvey for a new third baseman.
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Reese Kaplan -- Making the Pieces Fit Best

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While there have been a great many articles already written about the leadoff conundrum, the questions for the Mets go much deeper.  The manager has made some would say puzzling batting order decisions, the most obvious of which is the ongoing use of Curtis Granderson at leadoff.  Let’s start with a blank sheet of paper and figure out the optimal way of using the available resources.

Leadoff
An ideal leadoff batter would have a high OBP, ideally good baserunning speed and someone who is adept at taking a walk to force pitchers to work harder.  Obviously Jose Reyes fits the bill in that role, but his availability in the lineup is very much dependent on the health of teammates who will push ahead of him on the depth chart if available to play. 

Curtis Granderson performed shall we say better than expected in that role.  For a guy who struggles to hit .240 his OBP is surprisingly strong.  He’s very good at taking walks, and although his baserunning ability isn’t what it once was, he won’t resemble Jay Bruce or Wilmer Flores going 1st to 3rd.  The problem with Granderson has always been the high strikeout totals which are the very antithesis of what you want from a leadoff guy.  He’s a Plan B (perhaps still Plan A) is Jose Reyes is not in the lineup. 

My oddball choice for leadoff (if healthy) is Captain David Wright.  High OBP?  Check.  Decent baserunning speed?  Check.  High number of walks?  Check.  Lower strikeout totals than Granderson?  Check?  Occasional power?  Check.  More importantly, the torque required to hit home runs has got to make him become more of a gap hitter and less of a big swinger.  Towards that end he could better serve the club there than in the customary middle-of-the-order position. 

2nd Slot 
One of the creature-of-habit selections made by the manager is that if you play 2nd then you must bat 2nd.  Neil Walker got a great many ABs at that position in the batting order.  No one can argue with success as he was on the way to his most productive season ever before the back problems prematurely ended his season.  However, he’s showing he has middle-of-the-order potential and, to some extent, is perhaps wasted in the two-hole.

Again, without knowing the health of the other players it’s hard to speculate, but I could also build a case for David Wright being a number 2 hitter at this stage of his career.  That slot in the order should belong to someone who can take a pitch to allow the leadoff guy to run, who has good bat discipline and who is adept at hitting behind the runner. 

The other obvious option would appear to be Asdrubal Cabrera.  He’s in many ways a clone of Neil Walker.  They both hit for power, modest strikeouts and hit .280 and .282. 

The less obvious choice is a guy who strikes out relatively little and needs to learn he doesn’t have to hit the ball over the wall to be successful.  That would be Travis d’Arnaud.  The thing that makes him less than ideal here is his baserunning speed and the likelihood he could turn a leadoff hitter’s success into a double play. 

3rd Slot
This one is pretty much without argument.  It should go to the best overall hitter on the club and that would be Yoenis Cespedes.  He is a bit odd in that he has reverse platoon splits but the manager usually doesn’t notice such things (witness his use of the bullpen).  Towards that end some might say with the Mets’ plethora of lefty hitters, you might want to sandwich Cespedes between a few of them.  I’m not averse to that if one of the lefties is Michael Conforto.  However, with all-or-nothing hitters like Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda I’m not sure I’d buy off on giving any of them that 3-hole. 

Cleanup
Here is the spot for your traditional masher – the guy who is guaranteed to hit 30+ long balls.  I’ll take hell for saying it, but of the three lefty choices that honor goes to much maligned Jay Bruce whose annual totals far exceed what Lucas Duda has ever done and what Curtis Granderson can do at this stage of his career. 

5th Slot
Here is cleanup hitter-lite.  It should be a guy who can knock the ball over the wall and rack up good RBI totals.  Although it gives you two lefties in succession, that role belongs to Lucas Duda. 

6th Slot
Neil Walker has hit for more power over the course of his career than has Asdrubal Cabrera, so he’s the next logical hitter.

7th Slot
By default (not through any fault of his own) that would make Asdrubal Cabrera the natural hitter to follow Walker in the lineup. 

8th Slot
Well, if they don’t consider moving d’Arnaud than this spot is where he belongs until he proves he can hit at least as well as he did in the 2015 season. 

Recommendation With Wright (Against Righties)
  • Granderson
  • Wright
  • Cespedes
  • Bruce
  • Duda
  • Walker
  • Cabrera
  • d’Arnaud


Recommendation Without Wright (Against Righties)
  • Reyes
  • Granderson
  • Cespedes
  • Bruce
  • Duda
  • Walker
  • Cabrera
  • d’Arnaud


Recommendation With Wright (Against Lefties)
  • Wright
  • Cabera
  • Cespedes
  • Bruce
  • Flores
  • Walker
  • d’Arnaud
  • Lagares


Recommendation Without Wright (Against Lefties)
  • Reyes
  • Cabrera
  • Cespedes
  • Bruce
  • Flores
  • Walker
  • d’Arnaud
  • Lagares


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2/28/17

Casey Wentworth - On that catcher stuff Tom Brennan and Gary McDonald had been discussing

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Regarding an earlier article that I had written for this blog, suggesting the acquisition of Miami Marlin's JT Realmuto...

    The latest word out of Miami (I am hearing) is that their catcher position is between JT and Tomas Telis, who is also age 25 and a switch hitter. Ironically, neither has shown much power batting wise, although Realmuto has been on a slightly better skill progression as of late. Telis is a shorter catcher, standing at just 5'8", but he does have bulk weighing in at 219 pounds. Both have talent, but both right now are not predictable.

As it now stands, all the Marlin and Mets current catchers sort of fall into a very similar kind of a category really, with none actually standing out significantly over the other possibilities (although Travis is definitely trying this spring to become relevant here again and its hard to argue with his ST performance thus far in 2017.) Time always tells.

As for the real issues with ex-Baltimore catcher Mark Weiters?

It does not seem apparent that any one issue is to blame for his lack of interest from MLB teams thus far. It's really more of a combination of things that has (so far) slowed his signing somewhere else down, although there was recently a team mentioned seriously considering him. The combination I have seen offered (on other sports websites) was his age factor (30), his declining homerun capability, his injuries, and of course...his asking price. Not one issue is a "knockout" towards his being signed, but rather it is this "cumulative effect" of these things 
I have just mentioned.

My visceral thoughts on this catcher topic here with these NY Mets...

To me, starting Travis d'Arnaud as the 2017 NY Mets catcher is a lot like this team starting Lucas Duda on first base and David Wright on third base. You sort of say a Hail Mary (or two), and keep your fingers and toes crossed for nine innings. History not always a simple sort of thing to forget. Is it?

Other quick thoughts...

1. Why not include Brandon Nimmo as an idea at first base as well, especially if everyone else is trying out for it. Playing both outfield and first base could allow him to break camp on the 25-man if he hits well, as he should. Just an idea. I feel Juan Lagares has topped out already skill-wise.

2. Michael Conforto's bat is seriously impressive this ST, thus far. This is a very good thing!

3. Jay Bruce looks like "a player" this spring and this is a huge factor for the Mets' 2017 batting lineup power-wise especially.

4. Mets pitching looks right on course, already! (Wish Sandy and Terry would try the six-man rotation for 2017, knowing how brittle-like things could quickly become here from history. Bullpen would then go to six down from seven. Each reliever would have a defined role with six. No more seven relievers in one inning stuff, thank goodness.

5. Looking like Josh Smoker could be another set-up arm that this team could really count on in 2017. Bravo!

6. I feel for Gavin Cecchini right now. This kid is a really a good hitter, aggressive, solid defense, smart baseball mind...But here, a man without a position thus far. But do not give up here on him, remember Daniel Murphy, the guy who hit like .346 BA last year? Here's what I would do here with Gavin...Cabrera or Gavin at shortstop, the other at third base. I prefer Gavin at shortstop because he can handle it now, and Cabrera has more power at present and a recent injury history. I realize that Amed Rosario is the heir apparent here at shortstop, most likely in 2017. But why
not give Gavin a shot now to see all that he can do at this level too? Makes good sense to me. Plus, with Jose Reyes or TJ Rivera to back it all up, there is no way to lose with this suggestion. None at all.

So what I am seeing here for 2017 is pure excitement for all of us NY Mets fans and a true "Run For The Roses" come September. This team has added depth, made the key signings, and has the talented kids to somehow try to enter into this season's equation. Yes, I feel good Mrs. Quackenabush! Very good!

Play Ball!
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Eddie Corona - Debates... The Lineup

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Debates – The Lineup



Spring training brings about many opportunities to debate what is best way to maximize this team potential. I don’t see a traditional line up for the Mets and what’s the fun in that…

Let’s start the Debate…

1.    David Wright 3B Right Handed
2.    Lucas Duda 1b Left Handed
3.    Yoenis Céspedes LF Right Handed
4.    Asdrubal Cabrera SS Switch
5.    Curtis Granderson CF Left Handed
6.    Neil Walker 2b Switch
7.    Jay Bruce RF Left Handed
8.    Travis d'Arnaud C Right Handed

I will admit that this may have some shaking their heads so let me explain why.

David Wright is not the player he was. He is primarily a singles hitter. Last year he was used almost exclusively in the 2 hole because of his high on base average. How farfetched is the same concept at the lead off slot? An additional advantage is when Reyes is inserted at 3B, there would be no change to the lineup’s continuity.

Lucas Duda was a high on base guy early in his career. I view having Céspedes behind Lucas to protect him and hopefully the additional fastballs could have him back to his 2014 days.

Céspedes is going to bat 3 or 4 in any line up configuration.

Cabrera as the cleanup hitter, he proved last year that he was very efficient with his at bats. He actually reminded me a little of what Daniel Murphy brought to the table. He is professional hitter who could capitalize when the opposition pitches around Cespedes.

Granderson, Walker, Bruce and d'Arnaud in the 5,6,7,8 position, I believe about 95% of the lineup proposed would have these 4 in these slots in some order. My configuration primarily was set to break up the left handed hitters.  

We could argue that Reyes should start exclusively or Flores should be in more this year to see what he really is as a player but we know Terry and Sandy will have these 8 player start the majority of the time early in the season.


What would you do?
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FLASH: David Wright Sidelined with Shoulder Soreness

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     3B David Wright felt renewed soreness in his throwing shoulder after a few sessions of throwing. Team doctors have initially diagnosed Wright with a shoulder impingement but he is heading back to New York for further tests.

     The team expects Wright to be unable to participate in baseball activities for at least a few weeks and are preparing for Jose Reyes to be the opening day 3B. 


(Well.....that didn't take too long....at this point, it is clear that David is unable to physically play baseball anymore. It is seriously time to start considering a medical retirement.)
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Reese Kaplan -- Predictions About the 2017 Season

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Health is the main issue facing the NY Mets as the front office demonstrated by bringing back the 2016 squad without a single major league roster addition.  Considering that they barely eked into the playoffs last year with significant time missed by Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Adrubal Cabrera, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Yoenis Cespedes, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob de Grom, Zack Wheeler, Josh Edgin, Jim Henderson and others, it is arguably a minor miracle that they were able to achieve that much. 

Of course, the biggest focus of the injury watch should be David Wright.  His spinal stenosis and subsequent neck problem have left him a shell of his former self and the Mets are probably secretly hoping for one of two scenarios.  In the first one, some miracle occurs and Wright plays like the pre-iPhone days when there was talk of him being the first home grown offensive player to make it Cooperstown.  The other scenario is that he’s so hampered by his injuries that he will get a medically approved retirement and thus relieve the Mets of their $67 million obligation without looking like bad guys.  Unfortunately the in-between scenario is more likely.  He will attempt to play at a highly reduced level and again top out at around 50 games or less.  This worst-of-all-worlds situation means the club can’t reap value for his performance nor can they move on in a new direction for the future.  That means lots of Jose Reyes who has certainly lost a step or two but is a better leadoff option than Curtis Granderson.  After all, the manager makes no bones about giving veterans the opportunity to keep jobs even when they underperform (remember James Loney?).  The only player who might benefit from a Wright DL stint is TJ Rivera who otherwise will be spending another hot summer in Las Vegas.  Wilmer Flores continues to reside in Terry Collins’ doghouse for whatever reason. 

However, it is the pitching that will likely garner the most attention.  With Harvey, de Grom, Matz and Wheeler all coming off surgeries of one kind or another, plus Noah Syndergaard having dealt with bone spurs at the end of the season, there is cause for concern here as well.  It’s that uncertainty that led the Mets to keeping both Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman around as injuries do frequently occur.  With Bartolo Colon’s many healthy innings now gone to Atlanta, that was a sound decision. 

Of course, the right side of the infield is also a major cause for concern with Neil Walker and Lucas Duda both coming off back surgery.  Walker apparently feels well enough that there was even some early talk (since ended) of extending his contract. 

With Dom Smith in the wings, Lucas Duda is not hearing any such discussion about his future beyond 2017.  In a way he’s in a lose-lose situation.  If he is unhealthy then the Mets would justifiably cut him loose at year’s end.  If he is healthy and underperforming, ditto.  If, however, he is healthy and having a monster year, he could find himself transformed into a big mid-season trade chip as the club would stand to lose him for nothing unless they made him a QO (which is highly unlikely after being burned by Neil Walker).  I don’t see him finishing the season at 1B for the Mets.

So, my prediction is some early season struggles for the starting rotation which will put additional pressure on the bullpen.  That will lead to late season struggles by the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th inning guys due to necessity early and manager overuse later.  Wright will continue to hamstring the roster and payroll.  The bad back twins on the right side will be healthy and, given that they’re playing for a big free agent payday, will have monster years.  Ditto much maligned Jay Bruce.  Curtis Granderson will tank early and not come out of it this year.  However, the offense provided by Cabrera, Walker, Duda, Cespedes and Conforto (who will supplant Granderson) will be enough.  It will even allow Travis d’Arnaud to be carried all year where he will turn in a credible but unspectacular season of say 15/60/.260.  That offense combined with overall good pitching in the middle of the year will have the Mets winning the division by a razor thin margin.    


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2/27/17

GARY MCDONALD - THE CATCHING CONUNDRUM

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My favorite position on the field is catcher.  I love the art , the science of catching.  It is in my blood, my father was a catcher, my brother and I were catchers. There is just something about that position that appeals to me.  I always watch and pay attention to the catchers, study the movements, the foot work, releases, just enjoy it all.  The Mets have been blessed over the years  with some terrific catchers.  Jerry Grote, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, Todd Hundley.  Even some of the backups while not always great were solid .  Duffy Dyer, Ed Hearn, Barry Lyons. And if only Mackey Sasser could throw back to the pitcher !

Now, we have the trio of Travis d’Arnaud, Rene Rivera, and Kevin Plawecki.  None have distinguished themselves last season. d’Arnaud is the incumbent and will have the job.  At 28 years of age he is facing a turning point in his career. After struggling  last year, d'Arnaud when into the offseason knowing he had to improve his offense and his defense in order to stay in the lineup.  It was clear he missed Bob Geren who  left the Mets coaching staff and left the Mets without a catching coach.  There were times Travis  looked lost behind the plate and that defensive failure affected his offense. The Mets now have a catching instructor on their staff to work with both d'Arnaud and the other catchers.. Glenn Sherlock was hired away from the Diamondbacks in order to help New York's catchers, and Sandy Alderson is confident the hiring will prove to be successful.  The pressure is definitely on d’Arnaud to prove that he can do what he showed us in 2015 and can handle this talented pitching staff.  He also has to stay healthy.  Travis has had a history of injuries and must prove he can avoid injuries.  d’Arnaud will be the starting catcher.

Rene Rivera was picked up by the Mets , and went on to be the personal catcher of Noah Syndergaard, and was the best defensive catcher on the staff.  His offense was non existent, except for a few key hits, he clearly was on the team for his defense.  He projects as the Opening Day backup.

What to do with Kevin Plawecki?  The young catcher did not perform as well offensively, as we all thought.  However, he did an admirable job working with the pitchers, running games, and defensive prowess. He has reworked his swing ,over the past two winters and had a decent spring with the bat last year however, not playing every day hurt him and he did not hit at all and was sent down to the minors.  He hit pretty well at Vegas clearly showing he needs to play regularly.  While I like Plawecki, I see him starting the season in Las Vegas waiting for the call to the bigs whether with the Mets or with someone else.  

And lets not forget the pitching staff needs to help out a little bit, by holding runners on base better, and giving the catchers a better chance of throwing out runners.


It sure is going to be a fun spring and a fun season to see how all of this plays out.
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Tom Brennan - TOP 25 PROSPECTS RECAP

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Tom Brennan - TOP 25 PROSPECTS RECAP

So, 25 days (February 1 -25), 25 articles, and 25 top prospects listed below.  Missed any, feel free to find the past articles in the sidebar and read up on them.

Lots of fun to do, but what is the overall recap in my mind?

A lot of quality there - a real lot of quality.  Perhaps (and most likely likely) several stars in the group.

Starting pitcher-wise, 4 guys (Gsellman, Dunn, Szapucki, and Molina) with a chance to be real solid SP1 - SP 4 types.  Another guy in Conlon who may defy his relatively tame velocity and have real success in as a starter or reliever. 

Infield-wise, 2 very possible stars in Rosario and Smith, and perhaps Giminez in another few years.  Solid power hitting potential future 1B or 3B in David Thompson and Pete Alonzo.  A potentially very solid starting 2B in Gavin Cecchini.  Two possibly super subs in TJ Rivera and Philip Evans.

Potentially very good catchers in righty hitting Tomas Nido and lefty hitting Pat Mazelka.

Three possible future starting OFs in Nimmo, Lindsay, and Becerra, with Kaczmarski also a possibility.

And decent, if not fireballing, quality relievers with high success pedigrees in righty Paul Sewald and lefty Dave Roseboom.  

And some real good prospects in my next 10, and for that matter, my next 25.  One could argue that all guys in my 26-35 slots could have been in the Top 25.  Maybe some that didn't even make my Top 35.

I am a happy man thinking of that minor league pipeline.  The Mets are well-positioned to have capable call-ups when needed.  I wish them all career years and fine health in 2017.


1. SS Amed Rosario
2. 1B Dominic Smith
3. RHSP Rob Gsellman
4. OF Brandon Nimmo
5, RHSP Justin Dunn
6. LHSP Tom Szapucki
7. OF Desmond Lindsay
8. SS Gavin Cecchini
9. UTIF T.J. Rivera
10. 1B Peter Alonzo
11. LHSP PJ Conlon
12. MIF Phillip Evans
13. C Tomas Nido
14. OF Wuilmer Becerra
15. SS Andres Gimenez 
16. RHSP Marcos Molina
17. 3B David Thompson 
18. RHRP Paul Sewald
19. LHCL Dave Roseboom 
20. C Pat Mazeika 
21. RHSP Gabriel Ynoa (now with the O's)
22. LF Kevin Kaczmarski 
23. RHSP Ricky Knapp
24. OF Travis Taijeron 
25. SS Milton Ramos








No separate articles, but here is what I wrote in my February 1 article on my 26-35 guys:



26. Jeff McNeil - the infielder missed all but 3 games in 2016, or he'd have been in my Top 25.  I see in Jeff a promising future MLB utility player.

27. Kevin McGowan - 6'5", 235 righty impressed with 84 IP, 83K, 2.35, 1.09 stats in 2016.  Can he replicate in 2017?

28. Ricky Knapp - righty was 13-5 in A and AA, but 0-1, 5.50 in 18 Vegas innings.  Overall, though, 13-6, 2.69 in 164 IP, the second straight strong year for the 2013 8th rounder.  A case clearly could be made for him in the Top 25.

29. Matt Oberste - Matt is older than Dom Smith by a few years, and has shadowed Smith's journey up the minor league rungs...but I am not sure there is enough bat or glove there for a major league career.

30. Harol Gonzalez - little righty pitcher tore up Brooklyn in 2016, second only to ace Tom Szapucki; is he up for real success at higher levels?  We'll see.

31. Ben Griset - the righty reliever excelled for St Lucie in 2016 (4-2, 1.80, 1.03 WHIP, 66 K in 60 IP).  Can he continue to impress?  Lots of guys falter starting at AA.

32. Eudor Garcia - a good lefty hitting 3B who missed 50 games due to performance enhancements.  Also injured in 2016, so he played only 162 games for Columbia the past 2 years..  He needs to stay healthy and show if he is the real deal in 2017.  4th rounder in 2014.

33. Nabil Crismatt - the 22 year old righty is 16-8, 2.56 in his career, with 239 Ks and just 50 walks in 221 innings.  Lots of that was in the DSL, so let's see what he can do in a full season of A ball.

34. Andrew Church - 2nd rounder in 2013 has really struggled to stay healthy, with only 228 IP in 4 years, but he was 7-4, 2.92 in 15 starts in 2016, his first good season.  Needs to replicate at higher levels.

35. Ricardo Cespedes - very, very young outfielder who hit very, very well in Kingsport in 2016.



C'est Finis, monsieurs et madames.  



Except for one thing....Josh Smoker is not in these lists, but technically he is still a rookie like TJ Rivera.  Smoker just does not feel like a rookie to me, so I left him off.  I see him as a fireballing major leaguer.  Not a prospect.  Go get 'em, Mr. Smoker.
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Mack Ade - Neil Walker

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Good morning.


Resigning Neil Walker was the textbook case of a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation.

The native Pittsburgh born Pine Richard H.S. (Gibsonia) graduate started out as a catcher (2004) in the Pirates organization and remained a Pira6te through the 2015 season.

The Pirates traded Walker to the Mets (so much for home town loyalty) in December 2015. He signed a one-year $10.55mil deal with the Mets for the 2016 season, where he had a banner year (412-AB, 23-HR, .282) until his back went out. He became a free agent after 2016, but the Mets moved in and Walker agreed to their qualifying offer of $17.2mil for the 2017 season.

So now we have three starting infielders (David Wright, Lucas Duda) with bad backs costing the team $39.45mil to play a little baseball this season.

Smart move?


Reese Kaplan, of Mack’s Mets, said –

 I screamed from every rooftop to let this guy walk because he would be that rare player who would indeed accept the QO when it was made.  After all, he was coming off back surgery and it was unlikely any other club would want to offer him a long term deal until they saw he was once again healthy enough to handle the workload of a middle-of-the-order hitter.  Sure enough, the Mets offered and Walker bit, and now the Mets are licking their $17.2 million wound.

Don’t get me wrong.  The logic made perfect sense.  You did not know what was going to happen with Yoenis Cespedes.  Just like the Jay Bruce option being picked up, it was a hedge against Yo seeking greener pastures elsewhere.  The difference is that they had plenty of depth at the 2nd base position in Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera and even Gavin Cecchini.
What they’ve done by with that offer is hampered many other moves as they do not have the payroll flexibility to acquire the quality bullpen arms they need.  Furthermore, this whole scenario is going to repeat itself at the end of 2017 when Walker once again achieves free agent status.

It’s possible that they may want to talk to Walker about a long term deal to lock him up for say 3 years for his ages 32-35 seasons but I can’t see them going any longer than that.  Given what Daniel Murphy received from the Washington Nationals and using that as a yardstick, if you were Neil Walker would you sign for a cut in pay of nearly $5 million per year for the security of a three year deal?  If he has another 20+ HR season I think he’d likely want to test the waters and this time I hope the Mets would stay out of the QO game.  He may come back to them and perhaps he’s the 3B solution of the future if David Wright is once again unable to play.

Another way to go is to keep watching how guys like Rivera, Cecchini and Amed Rosario (with Asdrubal Cabrera shifting to 2B) progress throughout the year and see if perhaps you can turn this expensive mistake into something by peddling him at the trade deadline to another club to get prospects in return?  Isn’t that just as good as extending the QO in the hopes of getting a draft pick without the risk of getting stuck with a $17.2 million salary AND getting another club to eat 50% of it?  Of course, it all depends where the Mets find themselves in the standings come mid-season. 

Opinion – Frankly, I scratched my head when this deal was done. It’s not like he’s 25 years old and the picture of good health.

I’m sure that Sandy Alderson did not plan on spending $52.7mil this upcoming season on Walker, Jay Bruce, and Yoenes Cespedes. Believe me, the Bruce offer was a hedge because there was a good chance Cespedes wasn’t coming back. The Walker signing? $17.2mil for a 31-year old with a bad back? I don’t know.

And it’s not like there is a second base prospect in the wings. Dilson Herrera is gone. And we can assume that Amed Rosario will play short. Frankly, our hope now lies with the conversion of Gavin Cecchini into as good as a defensive second baseman as Murphy was (is). We know Cecchini can hit minor league ball and he has impressed so far this pre-season, but he's a long way away fro success at this position, at this level.

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Mack's Mets © 2012