1/17/17

Richard Herr - So Whaddya Think? - 11

8 comments
TC
“So whaddya think?”
“Whaddya mean? What do I think?”
“Whaddya think about Terry Collins as a manager?”
“I got mixed feelings about him. There are good things, there are bad.”
“What things?”
“Let me take the good first. Before last season, both Colon and Cespedes turned down more money to come back to the Mets.”
“Yeah.”
“They came here because it was a fun club to be with. I credit Collins for that. He’s got a good clubhouse. I also have to give credit to David and some of the other veteran guys. But think of where we’d be without Cespedes coming back last year, which led to his being around for the next four years. That’s big.”
“You got any other good things.”
“He gets along with the players.”
“Didn’t we just say that?”
“Not exactly. His last two managerial jobs, he fought with the players. Now he gets along with them. That means one very important thing: he can change. You can’t say that about a lot of managers.”
“True. Anything else?”
“It’s something else related to other things I just said. He works for Sandy.”
“That’s a bad thing?”
“It is. You know Sandy’s giving him a lot more marching orders than most GMs give their managers.”
“So?”
“So this guy who has a history of being outspoken, even downright argumentative, is now being a company man and doing what the front office tells him to.”
“That’s good?”
“It shows he adapts.”
“Doesn’t that prove a little frustrating for him?”
“I have a feeling that, after he has a session with Sandy he doesn’t particularly enjoy, he goes home, goes out into his back yard, and yells at the oak tree to vent his frustrations.”
“You think so?”
“Personally, I have always found oak trees to be very patient listeners.”
“You got any more good things about Terry?”
“Not much more.”
“So you have your list of complaints about him?”
“As do most fans. The first thing is the guys he likes and the guys he dislikes.”
“Who are you thinking about?”
“Most of the veterans. He likes them. He’s come out and said he likes somebody who’s got something on the back of their baseball card.”
“That’s not bad.”
“It is if those good things back there happened a long time ago. When you come to bat, they don’t send you to first base just on the basis of what you did twelve years ago. You gotta face the pitcher on that day. And you gotta swing the bat, the back of your baseball card can’t do that for you.”
“But it’s a good thing if you use someone who’s tried and true.”
“There’s only one thing wrong with that: someone’s gotta be tried before they become true. He’s got to get off the back of the baseball card thing and give the rookies more of a chance. He’s also gotta rest those backs of the baseball cards periodically during the very long 162-game season.”
“What else?”
“The guys that he likes for no good reason. I think the Met front office may have secretly given money to Eric Campbell to get him to go to Japan. The way Terry kept using him and his Mendoza batting average was not to be believed.”
“He shoulda been using the guys he didn’t like instead?”
“That’s right. But he doesn’t trust them. Like Wilmer Flores. He wouldn’t use him and wouldn’t use him, until he was finally browbeaten into sending him out there. And usually he’d hit, that is until there was one day he got an ofer. Then Terryd sit him for a week.”
“He don’t seem to like Wilmer?”
“Not from what I see. He also didn’t like Angel Pagan, so we wound up trading that guy for two pieces of cheese.”
“They were major league ballplayers.”
“Cheese woulda been better.”
“Any other raps on Terry?”
“The big one: the bullpen. He overuses some guys till their arms fall off, and the guys he doesn’t trust sit around collecting cobwebs. That is, up until the time they come in and do a good job. Then he uses them for far too many pitches until their previously unused arms begin to fall off.”
“True.”
“Here’s something that’s interesting. Terry’s a disciple of Joe Madden, and Madden overused his relievers in the World Series. Aroldis Chapman couldn’t get out of Chicago fast enough. Terry’s also like that, and he’s gotta get away from that philosophy or all the good relievers aren’t going to want to come to the Mets.”
 “Can anything be done about that?”
“There’s hope because, here’s where I get back to one of my first points, Terry knows how to change. Maybe he can listen to some one he trusts to get him to moderate his opinions. I thought that when the Mets replaced the bench coach they might find someone to help Terry with this.”
“Do you think Terry will actually change?”
“All I can do is hope. Like I keep sitting here hoping you might jump up, wave to Percy, and order us another round.”


Whenever Richard Herr isn’t solving all the Mets’ problems, he spends his time writing humorous science fiction novels.


You can see his books at https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Herr/e/B00J5XBKX4.
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Christopher Soto - Support Case To KEEP Jay Bruce

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As we approach the final month of the pre-season, the Mets find themselves still being the owners of left handed power hitting OF Jay Bruce. Alderson’s acquisition of Bruce back in July of 2016 was a two-fold approach to solving the club’s lack of hitting. A) The move was intended to lengthen the line-up by adding another power hitter to “protect” Cespedes. B) The move was an insurance policy for 2017 just in case the club was unable to re-sign Cespedes. Bruce’s contract had a 2017 club option attached that would allow the club maintain the same power capabilities going into 2017 as they had going into 2016.

The plan above was a perfect win-win scenario for Alderson. Unfortunately, Alderson and company mis-fired on two fronts in the scenario. 1) No one expected the Mets to sign Cespedes so easily and 2) In the weakest free agent class in over 5 years…..Bruce fell into the 1 player category that had plenty of inventory…..power hitting, low average, low WAR calculation outfielders. Now it seems like the club is stuck with Bruce….However…..such a problem is perhaps a good thing. In fact, the club should WANT to keep Bruce for the entirety of the 2017 season. Here’s the reasons why…
Power is Under-valued but Still Useful

Despite Bruce’s horrendous performance in a Mets uniform…..he did manage to finish 2016 with his 4th 30+ HR season in his career. In addition, while his pace of HR slowed down as a Met, he still managed to produce a run rate that would give him 26 HRs in a full season of crappy play. Sabermetrically speaking, Bruce is not as horrible as his line with the Mets suggest. Even though he was striking out at a 3% higher rate as a Met….his Hard Hit Contact ratios were in line to his time with the Reds.



The combination of Bruce, Cespedes, and Lucas Duda gives the Mets a trio of players that can all eclipse 30+ HRs. In the last 15 years, only 19 teams had a line-up that produced 3 or more 30+ HR hitters. What was the average record of those 19 teams? That would be 91 wins, 71 losses. In addition, 18 of the 19 produced winning records and 13 of those teams made the playoffs.

Bruce is a better RF than Granderson

Let’s preface this first…..Granderson is a superior fielder to Bruce….however, when it comes to the position of RF; arm strength is weighted more heavily in the analysis than at the other 2 OF positions. Despite being a lumbering mess, Bruce possesses one of the better cannons in the league. Over the past 6 seasons, Bruce is actually 3rd in the MLB with 60 total OF assists. Only Alex Gordon (72) and Gerardo Parra (64) have thrown out more runners. If you want to be more recent, (prior 3 seasons) Bruce is in the top 8 of runners thrown out.




Any defensive liabilities that Bruce may create from a range perspective are zero out by this improvement in arm strength. In addition, his range and fielding liabilities are also mitigated by the fact that the club has one of the Highest K% rotation in baseball which means less balls in play for the OF to potentially boot. Not to mention that the club will also be carrying defensive wizard Juan Lagares on the roster in addition to solid OF defenders in Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto for late inning replacements.

Bruce Helps Terry Balance the Line-Up vs Righties

One of the more undersold weaknesses of the club in 2016 was their hitting production against Right Handed Pitchers. The club was Top 10 against lefties but against righties they finished in the bottom 10. In 2016, Bruce had a pretty significant platoon split, displaying his ineffectiveness vs lefties with a measly .678 OPS against. Against RHPs though, he posted an OPS that was almost 200 basis points HIGHER at .872 OPS. If Bruce can get back to his normal production…that .872 OPS is going to significantly boost this team’s effectiveness against the righty heavy rotations of the Nationals, Phillies, and Braves.


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Tom Brennan - RIGHTY RIPPERS

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Tom Brennan - RIGHTY RIPPERS



(Pictured - all time great righty Mets hitter Mike Piazza)
(Folks: thought I'd repost this article, in case anyone missed it last week)

The Mets' minors have plenty of good, promising righty hitters....let's call them RIGHTY RIPPERS...dudes more apt to rip the cover off the balls than their counterparts.

What seems to be lacking in this entire group is a Yoenis Cespedes type - the classic home run hitter, but I generously count up 16 guys in all.
Rather than a long running, unsorted list, I decided to sort as follows:

1) Sure-fire major league starter with high career expectations.

2) Likely to be a major league starter or frequently playing platoon guy.

3) Most likely a major league utility guy struggling for at bats.

4) Flaws make any major league impact unlikely, or too early to tell.

CATEGORY 1: SURE-FIRE BIG LEAGUER

AMED ROSARIO - may never be an NL All Star SS, but only because so many superb SS stars having entered or recently entered the NL, but he could be possibly the Mets' best career shortstop.  Ever.

CATEGORY 2:  MLB STARTER OR FREQUENT PLATOON GUY

TJ RIVERA – had the Mets not re-signed Neil Walker, I’d not have him here, after his league leading .353 in Vegas, and his subsequent .333 hitting in 105 at bats in Queens – but he may end up back in Vegas if all the other major league Ifs come out of the spring healthy. I recently compared his possible future major league arc to Jeff Keppinger or even perhaps Justin Turner.  Say no more.

GAVIN CECCHINI - hits and makes contact very well. I have a feeling his being switched to second, and adding some more long ball pop, will fix his defensive SS lapses (not everyone is cut out for SS, and thankfully, we have Rosario) and make him a major league regular, starting in 2018.

DAVID THOMPSON – for just 432 at bats, lots and lots of extra base hits (49) and RBIs (95) at 2 levels of A ball.  Project those to 600 at bats, and you have 68 extra base hits and 132 ribbies.  Maybe he is the Mets' future 3B.  It may take a David to replace a David.

PHIL EVANS – in including him this high, I am gambling here that his winning the AA batting title in 2016, with a .485 slugging %, was no one-season fluke. (He hit .311 in 19 winter ball games, too).

WUILMER BECERRA – if he can stay healthy…which he wasn’t in 2016, playing just 65 games for St Lucie and hitting .312, but with just 1 homer.  He played hurt for a while until shut down on July 17.  Before then, in one stretch, he went a torrid 35 for 75 from April 17 to May 9, which shows a great hit tool if he stays healthy.  Anyway, every team should have 2 guys whose name is pronounced wil-mer.

PETER ALONSO - small body of work to judge him on in his 2016 Brooklyn debut, but he was tearing it up (.321/.382/.587 in 120 plate appearances) on a terrible hitting team before he broke his leg.  Future star, or will he emulate Cory Vaughn, who hit well in Brooklyn several years ago but sputtered afterward?  I think his relatively low K rate (1 every 5.9 PA) bodes well…Cory fanned more.

DESMOND LINDSAY - the toolsy lad has done very well at a very young age when he has been able to stay on the field, and I am guessing 2017 will really show he is special. .303/.433/.451 in 37 games in 2016, mostly in Brooklyn.  Easy on those hamstrings, Mr. Lindsay; 120 games in 2017 would be nice.

TOMAS NIDO – catching in 90 hot Florida league games, he only hit .320/.357/.459 to win the batting title, made just 3 errors, and threw out 50 of 119 would-be base runners after a still laudable 41 of 104 in 2015.  What a 2016 season!  Will he be a better-defensive version of Kevin Plawecki, or a legit major league starter?  2017 in AA will reveal clues, but it seems his floor is Rene Rivera, who plays a lot, and hopefully he will be a better major league stick.

CATEGORY 3:  FUTURE MLB UTILITY GUY

MATT REYNOLDS – decent glove infielder, but I soured on his bat after hitting just a low power .264 in hitting heaven Las Vegas.  He did OK with the Mets at first glance, with .224/.266/.416 in a little over 90 plate appearances, but the 34 Ks are a pulsing red light.  No speed is another ceiling reducer.  Lots and lots of middle infield competition in the Mets organization.  Only injuries will get him back to Queens, it seems.

JEFF MCNEIL – Jeff was an impressive, if low powered, hitter through 2015, bulked up before 2016, and missed all but a few games of 2016 due to a sports hernia.  If fully healthy, and he can carry the added muscle, he is a real possibility for a future big league utility guy.
Career .304/.375/.391 in about 1,200 minor league plate appearances, with 45 of 58 steals.  Nice, nicer with more power.


CATEGORY 4: TALENTED, BUT DOUBTFUL MLB CHANCES, IMO

TRAVIS TAIJERON – 295 extra base hits in 2,185 minor league at bats in 645 minor league games – WOW!  But those 737 career Ks represent his roadblock.  I thought he was ready to break through in 2016 when he was hitting .314/.394/.574 on July 4, but he slid to .275 by year end.  If anything, a future strict platoon player against lefty pitchers for a weaker major league team.

EUDOR GARCIA – his drug suspension and some injuries limited him to 57 games in 2016 in Columbia, where he hit .280/.335/.427.  I think his bat will shine in 2017, but I cannot move him higher than category 4 based on his career-to-date performance.

MATT OBERSTE – like Lucas Duda, he is a 7th round large first base pick.  He hit well in 2015 and 2016 in A and AA (.292/.350/.420 in 832 at bats), but no speed and 153 Ks and just 15 homers over that span.  So, as of now, the 25 year old seems like a somewhat better hitting, less-powered Travis Taijeron in an organization with an heir-apparent 1B in Dom Smith and a righty alternative in Wilmer Flores, not to mention Peter Alonso.  He needs to up his game to make the bigs.

KEVIN TAYLOR – this 25 year old IF was drafted in the 36th round by LAD, moved to independent ball in 2014, and was signed by the Mets in 2016. In 399 at bats for St Lucie, he was a fine .288/.386/.404, but that just gets him up to about 10th on the Mets’ minors infield list.  He did not play middle infield but in fact did play a lot of outfield and 1B in 2016, with just 1 error in 70 games in those 2 slots.  A great year in 2017 could change that ranking, but he has a stiff climb to be more than a very long shot, even as a utility player.

JHOAN URENA – liked by many prior to 2015, the 3B had a weak, injury-marred 2015 and 2016, in which, combined, he hit just .222 in 608 at bats, with a .340 slugging % and 73 RBIs and 42 errors!   He will play all of 2017 as a 22 year old, so maybe the light switch goes on, but he has done himself no favors the past 2 years.  


CONCLUSION:

Too many guys for too few major league slots, and these are just the righty hitters, I have 10 more on my lefty list to come out in a few days, so I must be being a little (or more than a little) generous in my rankings.  But it is up to them to succeed, anyway. 

And up to you, dear reader, what do you think?
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1/16/17

Mack Ade - Jay Bruce

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I worked hard on this post and had it scheduled for tomorrow morning. Then came reports that the Phillies and Michael Saunders came to terms.

Oh well...

Here's what I wrote...


Good morning.


There are various media reports being, well, reported, that the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are trying to put together a deal where the Mets would put Jay Bruce on the Amtrac down to the City of Brotherly Love and, in exchange, would receive ‘two prospects’. This may be the best deal the Mets can get for someone no one else seems to want and it would give the Mets an opportunity to seed their organization with some much needed pipeline talent.

I did some research and if the deal came to fruition, and you saw any of the following names in that deal, it could turn out to be a great deal in the long run for the Mets –

RHP Nick Pivetta – He’s 23-years old with a 2017 ETA. Was part of the 2015 Jonathan Papelbon trade with the Nats. Last year, split in AA/AAA, his stat line was 3.27, 149-IP, 138-K, 51-BB. Curve, change-up, fastball up to 95. Could be an instant candidate for the Mets bullpen.

RHP Ben Lively – 24-yrs old, also with a 2017 ETA. He came over to Philly from the Red in a trade for Marlon Byrd. Dominated in 2016: AAA/AA – 18-5, 2.69, 171-IP, 139-K, 42-BB. Slider, curve, go-to change-up, and fastball up to 94. Has been a starter his entire career so any conversion to the pen might initially be difficult. I would add him to the Vegas rotation for 2016. 

C Jorge Alfaro – 23-years old, ETA late 2017. Came to Philly (boy, it seems like everybody came to this team via a trade) from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade. Would I love this guy in my pipeline… 2016 in AA:  .285/.325/.458, 15-HR. Considered a very aggressive hitter that projects to hit more home runs than our current catcher. Has always had the arm, but found the accuracy last season. Needs one more year to polish up both the bat and the glove. This guy could easily be the full time Mets catcher, beginning in 2018, for years to come.

2B Scott Kingery – 22-yrs old, ETA 2018. Yes, a second baseman. Came out of the 2015 draft. Last season, split between A+ and AA: .281/.335/.388, 30-steals, 38-BB, and only 90-Ks in 531-AB. Also had 36 doubles and has flashes of gap power. But here’s the tie breaker… a super defender on second. Kingery could join forces with Amed Rosario for many years of close down middle infield defense.

RHP Sixto Sanchez – ETA 2020 – Great name. Deals for two prospects tend to be one at the top level of an organization and one at one of the rookie levels. Teams don’t like to deal two top level chips, especially for a questionable guy like Bruce. The 18-year old could be an interesting addition. Posted a minuscule 0.50-ERA, 11-starts in Rookie ball last season… curve, change, and a fastball up to 99. I’d send him to Columbia and keep him as a starter (for now), but speed like that could speed up his move up the chain to become a member of the Mets pen in 2019.

OF Mickey Moniak – 18-yr. old, ETA 2020 – Probably a long shot to get your hands on the ex-first round 2016 pick. Had a wonderful 2016 in rookie ball (.284/.340/.409) but did not show home run power. Has great speed and ++ arm. Too early to project out, but, like I said, it would be a steal to get this kid away from Philadelpha.

RHP Franklyn Kilome – 21/yrs, ETA 2019 – Dominican 2013 signee… 6-6/175… stat line last year in Low-A:  3.85, 115-IP, 130-K, 50-BB… .357-ERA over three professional seasons… fastball up to 96, plus a curve and (so far) a poor curve. Kilome has always been a starter, and I probably would keep him starting in St. Lucie next season, but this could be a great long term projected back end reliever.

OF Roman Quinn – 23-yrs old, 2017 ETA – hit .287 last season in AA and also hit .263 in 57 at bats for the Phillies. Also, had 36 steals and 31 walks in 308 at-bats. Minor League Ball grades him out with 80-speed. A perfect candidate for the lead-off slot in Queens. Downside is health… has been hurt throughout his pro career.

You want to build a great organization? Fine, sign an established star like Bruce, then deal him off for two blue chip prospects. You now have two team controlled future stars for the cost of, well, not nothing, but close to it.


You get me C Jorge Alfaro and 2B Scott Kingery and I’m a dancin’ fool. 
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Power Hitting Dominoes are Starting To Fall

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Stories abound today that the Blue Jays are about to sign Jose Bautista and the Phillies are close with Michael Saunders.  By my calculations that still leaves Mark Trumbo as a homeless slugger in search of shelter as well as Mike Napoli.  The Rangers were rumored to be interested in the now former Cleveland Indians DH and the Orioles would seem to be a natural place for Trumbo since he played for them last year.  With the Rangers and Orioles the other two teams still allegedly interested in Jay Bruce, it may be a bit bleak for Mets fans who wish to chip in for his Uber ride to La Guardia. Perhaps if someone else jumps in on either of these two remaining sluggers then there will be a market for Bruce, but then again if other teams are interested in adding power, why isn't Sandy Alderson in contact with them now?
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Tom Brennan - METS' MASH UNIT

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Tom Brennan - METS' MASH UNIT

Joel Sherman wrote an interesting article in the Post on January 15, noting what we all who follow the Mets closely know intuitively: how far this 2017 team goes depends on how healthy it is.

Simply put, in 2016, Granderson was the closest the Mets got to Cal Ripken, with 150 games.  He, Cespedes, Duda, Wright, Walker, Cabrera and d'Arnaud, representing 7 of their 8 would-be starting 9 heading into 2016, averaged only 99 games played.  That's an average of 39% of games missed.  Love those sick day benefits.   Heck, the sputtering Al de Aza got in only 2 less games than Cespedes' 132.  Three back surgeries in one infield in a season is undoubtedly a major league record. Other guys (Reyes, Flores) got hurt too.

Pitching-wise, the vaunted starting 5 (Thor, Jake, Steve, Matt, and Zach) got to start only 92 or 93 games - so they did not start 43% of 2016's games, a lot due to Zach's zero starts, of course.  

Colon got (thankfully) to start a bunch of the others, while Lugo and Gsellman primarily got most of the rest - and those 2 saved the season for them by starting really, really well.  Wheeler (as noted) got zero, Harvey just 17, and 4 of the 5 had arm surgery since the last time they pitched.

Good news?  Team depth on a still-not-quite-settled roster looks better (perhaps a lot better) to me starting 2017 than it did at the start of 2016.  Even without Fat Bart.  And early reports on our starters' health seem very hopeful.

So???   Hope for a heathy squad, but don't take it for granted that it will be.  If that 99 games played per offensive guy can jump to 125, we're in great shape.  If our 5 top starters can give us 125 combined starts, ditto.

Just as, if not more, important, may the health of you, the fine readers and writers of Mack's Mets, be excellent in 2017. 

 May each of you not miss a start.


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Mack Ade – Jacob deGrom

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Good morning.


I’ve told this story a number of times on Mack’s Mets.

Savannah Sand Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola and I were standing on the field around 2pm, five hours before game time on day one of the 2012 season. We were discussing various positive points about the pitchers he had on that staff… Michael Fulmer, Rafael Montero, Logan Verrett, and the infamous Domingo Tapia… when a young man with a larger smile than his blonde hair walked by and Viola said something like, “and then there’s this shortstop… wait until you see him pitch.”

I had no idea what Viola was saying and I watched as the ‘shortstop’ went over to the warmup mounds behind first base. The catcher turned out to be Cam Maron and the first pitch thrown by this kid was a fastball that came in around 95. Maron looked around, also perplexed because he had no idea who was throwing to him and Viola just smiled. Other pitchers stopped what they were doing and walked over to the practice mound to watch the late arrival to camp.

It was like the pitcher made the entire team stop in their tracks by throwing strike after strike at 93+ mph levels.

The shortstop?

Jacob deGrom.

DeGrom is the kind of ballplayer that shows you that you just can’t rely on the ‘best player available’ theory regarding the draft. He came out of Stetson University after pitching only one inning in 2009, but hit .258 in 128-AB while playing short. He did move to the mound for his last year in school (22-yr. old junior) where he went 4-5 4.48. All this got him was a draft call in the 9th round, which still seemed a little high for a no-hit, no-pitch kind of guy.

Obviously, the Mets scouts saw something different and deGrom has gone on to produce identical 1.10-WHIPs in four minor league seasons and three with the parent Mets.

Word out of pre-camp is that deGrom is now 100% after surgery to repair his ulnar nerve. The surgery was not considered career threatening though it did shut him down last September for the remainder of that season.

Brian Joura of www.mets360.com fame has his spin on deGrom and, as usual, he is informative and thorough here exclusively on Mack’s Mets –

Jacob deGrom started 2016 not able to match the previous year’s velocity.  Then he became the no-decision king and then he finished with a season-ending injury.  But he was terrific through most of the year and deserved the All-Star spot that mistakenly was given to Bartolo Colon.  Here were their numbers at the break:

Jake – 93.0 IP, 2.61 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, .644 OPS against
Bart – 98.2 IP, 3.28 ERA, 1.216 WHIP, 5.9 K/9, .719 OPS against

Through Aug. 13th, deGrom had a 2.30 ERA and a 1.050 WHIP in 133.1 IP.   

           Then his last three starts were awful and he ended up getting surgery.
It would be great if the Mets could lock up deGrom to a long-term deal but it probably wouldn’t be in his best interest to do it.  He got a late start to his MLB career, not debuting until he was 26.  As it stands now, deGrom won’t be a free agent until after the 2020 season, meaning a team would sign him starting at his age 33 season.  Why would he sign a team-friendly deal and delay hitting the open market until his age 34 or 35 season?  He’d have to be majorly risk-averse to do that.  Even if he was that terrified of risk, hopefully his agent, looking out for his best interests, would only sign a deal locking up his arbitration years at a slight discount without surrendering any free agent ones.  But would Sandy Alderson do that?

This might be a case where it’s best for all concerned to just go through the                system.

Brian makes a very good point, especially since deGrom will be a Met for four more seasons before turning 33, an age the Mets must be concerned about, especially with their history of starters going under the knife.

Greg Prince, author of Faith and Fear in Flushing, had a different spin - 

         I should probably feel reticent about Jacob deGrom coming off of surgery, but seeing as how he was in the beginning to peak last summer before he started dealing with discomfort, I have a sense that he'll be as good as new, come April.

        2014 arm/2017 head - Pain relieved no structural damage, a nice pre-arbitration settlement, no worries that we know of regarding his infant son (which had to be a distraction for him as 2016 got going), a visibly cool head on the mound, the same repertoire that he availed himself of to great success... yes, I feel good about number 48. Just thinking of him taking the ball has me excited for spring.

I look for him to slot comfortably in as the SP2 starter behind the emerging superstar Noah Syndergaard

Past that, I can’t speculate.
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1/15/17

Tom Brennan - LEFTY LASHERS

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Tom Brennan - LEFTY LASHERS


The Mets certainly have their share of LEFTY LASHERS on the Mother Ship in Queens.  
Big, bad (but surely great in 2017) Lucas Duda; young Michael Conforto: bags-packed Jay Bruce; gent's gent Curtis Granderson; and switch hitters in Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, and former batting champ Jose Reyes, who hit lefty most of the time.  That is a lot of LEFTY hitters. Not to mention thunderous Noah Syndergaard.
Not sure when the Mets over the years had as many lefties as this...are they planning to install a Yankee Stadium porch or something?  Might want to, and call it something original like Kiners Korner.
But this article is not about the majors guys.  Instead, it asks if there are up-and-comers who swing from the right side of the plate and thus earn the honor (which I share) of being called a LEFTY.  I guess lefties are in their right minds and also hit from the right side...I get it now.
Anyway, yes, we have minors lefty bats  Here's the best:
Brandon Nimmo - won the triple A batting title....whoops, TJ Rivera edged him out by a point by going 9 for 16 over his last 3 games.  But Nimmo did win the LEFTY AAA batting title at .352, and also hit a low power .274 in limited action in Queens. Will he get much of a chance in the bigs on a 2017 team crowded with LEFTY hitters, and if he does, will he do well?  Hope he plays like a very successful 1st round pick. His limited power to date may limit his career if not altered.
Dominic Smith - a first rounder two years after Nimmo, he has progressed nicely in most respects, including upping the HR quotient of his power game in 2016.  
He hit .302/.367/.457 as a guy who turned just 21 last June, with a nice 91 ribbies in 130 contests.  According to his stats, he has achieved parity with current Met 1B Duda in one unfortunate respect...250 pounds.  At his listed 6'0" height, that is a bit unsettling.  Maybe Weight Watchers needs to send Las Vegas an eating coach?
Kevin Kacsmarski - after only one short season and one full season in the minors KK has already just turned 25 on New Years eve, so he needs to fire it up in 2017. In 175 minor league games so far, a Nimmo-like .309/.381/.451. but just 6 long balls. But those 670 at bats include 47 doubles, 15 triples, and 34 steals.  
Seems like a future utility major leaguer in progress to me, but let's see if he can stun us in 2017.  Oh, and just 2 errors, with 10 assists, as an OF in 170 games out there, which is terrific for a minors guy.
Pat Biondi of St Lucie is 25, 10 days younger than KK, and is a very speedy, very low power guy who hit .27I with a .352 OBP in 2016 in 99 games. My feeling is there is not enough stick to get Pat to the bigs, but maybe he surges in 2017 and changes minds.
Luis Guillorme - the powerless (one career HR) defensive SS whiz regressed to modest levels of offense after his promotion to St Lucie in 2016 after his MVP season in Savannah in 2015.  A boost in the bat going forward could land him a utility IF spot in the bigs someday.
Pat Mazelka - the lefty hitting catcher, who will play as a 23 year old in 2017, has impressed in the same 1 1/2 year time span as Kevin K, with Pat putting up a .329 career minors average so far, with decent pop and excellent contact.
Patrick only made as far as Columbia in 2016 because he missed a good chunk of time with an injury and (righty) Tomas Nido blocked him in St Lucie. Both will undoubtedly move up a level; it is nice to have 2 fine hitting catchers in the system below Kevin Plawecki.
Dash Winningham just turned 21, and 2017 is time to show if he will be a mediocre minors power bat, or start to accelerate. With Columbia in A ball in 2016, Dash had 31 doubles and 12 homers in 465 at bats...but hit just .234. Hoping for a big year from the big 1B in 2017.  
His 3 steals in 243 games indicates that the name is not descriptive of that aspect of his game. However, his 29 career homers in under 1000 at bats IS impressive.
Ricardo Cespedes - the teen idol had a fine year in 2016 in Kingsport rookie ball (56 G, .322/.356/.379).  He'll only turn 20 at the end of the 2017 season.  One to really watch.
Anthony Dimino – WHO?    Well, he hit a very nice .325/.437/.410 in 37 games as a catcher in the Gulf Coast league, so let’s add him here, just to acknowledge a good job in 2016.  He is already, though, a 23 year old who did a lousy job throwing guys out in 2016, but let’s toss him in the mix just to get him on the outer reaches of our radar system.
Andres Giminez - the SS played the entire DSL season as a 17 year old and killed it, with a .350/.469/.523 in 69 games.  Let's hope he is a future super duper star.

Hope none of your LEFTY favorites were LEFT off my list.

Overall, some good signs of hope from the LEFTY hitters down under, in terms of future help for the Mother Ship.  

If you missed it, look up my last article: RIGHTY RIPPERS.

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1/14/17

Reese Kaplan -- I Come to Bury Sandy & To Praise Him

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According to Webster’s the word multitasking is defined as “the performance of multiple tasks at one time.”  If you peruse any executive’s job description you will see that multitasking is usually in the first line or two of the requirements as tunnel vision and a singular focus is not the role for someone in management.  No, they have to see the big picture, juggle different priorities and plan for both good and bad outcomes. 

This week Sandy Alderson held a meeting with members of the fourth estate and showed he was a true maverick, bucking the trend of multitasking, and instead would handle one task at a time.  Apparently, therefore, he’s not going to make any personnel changes until the outfield situation is settled (but he even backed off on that one saying that it’s possible to go into the season with the team’s outfield as it is).  He added he doesn’t expect to add a position player, content to enter the 2017 season with unsettled and less than ideal solutions in centerfield and at catcher.

Friday he surprised us when in a fast flurry of last minute negotiations several of the Mets arbitration cases got settled.  The whole process is less than ideal with the team left to parade negative statistics in front of the player and arbiter which will no doubt serve to damage the relationship between the two of them.  In a business situation it is usually more positive with the employee making his case and the employer making his decision.  The injection of an arbiter is what turns what could be a stressful but productive situation into one with potentially lingering side effects.

By the way, anyone want to bet Wilmer Flores is now on the trading block?  Sandy doesn't like it when people defy his wishes and he has the audacity to ask to be paid more than the likes of Ruben Tejada.  

While I harp on the negatives of Sandy Alderson, I’m also quick to point out the times I feel he was justified in his actions.  To wit, I will continue to defend the price he paid to obtain Jay Bruce from Cincinnati last year when the club was desperate for offense.  The deal made sense at the time and Bruce having an option for 2017 at a relatively low price. 

Now there are some revisionist historians saying that it was a mistake to obtain him AND a mistake to pick up his option.  However, at the time the option was exercised Yoenis Cespedes was not yet signed to a contract, so without his bat in the lineup Bruce became a critical fallback position.  It is the same reason they foolishly signed Neil Walker but the difference is that there were a multitude of alternatives to play 2B but few proven options for the outfield. 

I’ll also defend Sandy Alderson in the current kerfuffle regarding Wally Backman.  Without proof, I think Wally comes off as a bitter man seeking a scapegoat.  Remember, he did not have a long list of suitors prior to the Mets taking a chance on him in 2009 and he did not get people knocking on the door asking for his services despite winning big in Las Vegas and elsewhere.  Sure, I’d rather see him managing the Mets than the Skipper, but then anyone with a pulse could probably motivate the players more.  However, until and unless Wally can produce an email, a Tweet, a transcript or something else to substantiate that Sandy Alderson has blackballed him, he’d be better off closing his mouth and proving himself on the field because no one wants to hire someone who badmouths his former employer.  If he did it to them, then he’ll likely do it to you, too.

In fact, when you think about it, it’s kind of laughable to imagine Sandy Alderson making a concerted effort to do something in this regard when his MO for the entire off season has been to sit on his hands and wait for the phone to ring.  But hey, let’s not judge too harshly.  After all he did offer a minor league contract to a guy with less than 27 innings of big league experience this week.  That’s progress. 



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1/13/17

SUSPENDED - RP - GARY CORNISH

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Mets minor league relief pitcher Gary Cornish has been suspended for 50 games for Amphetamine use.

The 19th round 2016 draft pick went 2.16/1.08, 15.84-K/9 (tops in all of minor league baseball for pitchers with over 20 innings pitched) for Brooklyn in 2016, in 14 appearances.

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