7/30/16

DREARY HITTING, DREARY TEAM by Tom Brennan

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DREARY HITTING, DREARY TEAM by Tom Brennan

I thought I would repost this today after last night"s dreary affair and after hearing the Mets are dead last in hitting with RISP at .202.  Obviously bad, but Yanks are second worst at .219, and Brewers are 4th worst at .237, 25 points higher than the miserable Mets' bats.  


So here is my repeat:

I was excited coming into this season.  Reality will always, to some degree, intrude on one's excitement.  But it didn't for the first 31 games.  The Mets were hitting a lot of homers, scoring close to 4.5 runs per game, and sitting pretty at 20-11.


Then reality set in...33-37 over the past 70 games, getting great pitching, but DREARY hitting.  A mere 3.35 runs per game, leaving the team at 372 runs, 28th in baseball, a mere 3 ahead of San Diego and 21 ahead of Atlanta.  Very close to the bottom.  And 190 behind the Red Sox.  It is what Met teams historically do - score in the bottom third of baseball teams.  Offensive impotence is part of this team's genealogy.  Root, root, root for the home team - while they sputter.  And they sit squarely at the bottom in terms of batting average, at .238.  Thirtieth out of 30.


Of course, the .238 is much, much higher than the team's batting average with runners in scoring position, which has not been dreary - it has been dreadful, including yesterday.


Yesterday was yet another day that Jake deGrom pitched his heart out and got shafted, not due to Familia - more on him later - but due to this ownership's inability to develop or acquire offensive talent - or, in the case of Murphy(.351/.391/.619), keep it when it is right under their collective noses.


Jake has won 29 of his 70 starts (41%), despite more than a strikeout per inning; a career 2.59 ERA; and the fact that he helps himself with the bat.  This year, he has won 6 of 17 - 5 losses, 7 no-decisions - despite a 2.56 ERA.  Why?  The dreary hitting.


Solution?  Spend money.  Consider that we only got Cespedes back because he got cheap.  The owners are cheap always, fingers firmly crossed...and we get dreary hitting - how bad would we be had we not lucked back into Cespedes?  Historically bad.


Jeurys Familia has pitched in a ton of games this year and last - partly because every game is close because the team's offense is dreary.  He's just plain tired.  Worn out, perhaps.  Mechanical Terry Collins' luck finally ran out there.


How would this team have looked if they were brilliant like the Yanks, got Chapman for a few low level prospects instead of Bastardo, spent a little more on Chapman, got rewarded with 105 MPH-induced fan delight, and then could have auctioned him off for a club's best prospect a few months later (as the Yanks just did), or kept him and had the best darned bullpen in Mets' history - one where Familia is tired, Chapman steps right in.  


But the Mets did not pursue Chapman because of salary cost differential...forgetting that by getting an elite reliever like Chapman, their record would be better, they'd be more exciting, he'd help draw more fans, etc.  How much in cash would it have cost for the Yanks to buy the guy they just got?  $40 million?    Seems like the YANKS understand true baseball economics.


So the Mets are dreary - because they are cheap - and actually stupid enough to think de Aza would be their quality starting CF before Cespedes miraculously dropped into their laps.


I've had it with cheap.  I've had it with dreary.   My brother?  100% agrees.  How about you?
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Reese Kaplan -- Status Quo? Oh, No!!!

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We reached the fish or cut bait portion of the season.  This week the Miiami Marlins have added two starting pitchers as they attempt to catapult themselves from the second division the past few years into the post season for the first time in thirteen years.  They took the bold step of actually trying to improve their roster.  As Saturday begins the Marlins stand 5.5 games back of the Nationals.  The Mets are trailing them by a game and a half.  The Marlins add Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea.  The Mets trot out an injured Yoenis Cespedes, play shorthanded with an injured Jose Reyes, just lost Juan Lagares for the season for the surgery he should have had when he tore his thumb ligaments.  The Marlins seek to improve the roster.

What have the Mets done?  Well, they keep Alejandro De Aza around for no explicable reason.  He’s rallied recently and has his batting average up to a robust .195.  He’s hit 2 HRs  and driven in 6 runs while stealing 3 bases.  That’s a pace for a full time gig of 10 Hrs, 30 RBIs and 15 Sbs for the entire season.  Wouldn’t nearly ANYONE in organized baseball at the major league or AAA level be able to deliver at least that much?   It’s another case of salary dictating roster space.

Then there’s Antonio Bastardo.  He’s rapidly becoming the pitching equivalent of Jason Bay.  It looked like a good signing when it happened (though not as good as they could have done – Bay instead of Matt Holliday, Bastardo instead of Aroldis Chapman), but it should have unfolded better than it has.  Bastardo doesn’t even have the concussion excuse.  He’s been just brutal.  After Friday’s debacle, he’s now offering up a 4.85 ERA as a pitcher who’s being paid to hold the opposition scoreless.  He’s signed for next year as well, so it’s obvious why he’s still here.

I’m going to take heat for this one, but can someone explain to me the love affair with Jose Reyes?  He’s been fairly brutal at 3B defensively.  He’s hitting .239 with a .278 OBP.  Wasn’t he signed to get on base?  On the rare times when he has, he’s stolen bases – 3 with just one caught stealing – but isn’t that what Eric Young, Jr. did and was run out of town?  In his final full season with the Mets he hit .229 with a .299 OBP.  He wasn’t considered even good enough to hold a bench spot on the roster yet Jose Reyes has started nearly every game since arriving.  It’s about time for someone to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

More importantly, what is general manager Sandy Alderson doing to address the run scoring problem, the starting pitching problem and, to a lesser extent, the bullpen problem?  He’s after a middle reliever.  Doesn’t he have his priorities upside down?  Isn’t Hansel Robles capable of holding down the 7th inning before handing it over to Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia?

On the other hand, you have right now one batter other than Yoenis Cespedes in the starting lineup every day – James Loney – hitting over .260.  It’s an embarrassment.

So are the Mets actually trying to win the games, or are they writing off the 2016 season due to injuries and bad decisions.  If the former, DO SOMETHING to fix the problems.  If not, DO SOMETHING to fix the problems.  Doing nothing results in games like the ones we’ve seen lately.
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7/29/16

DREARY HITTING, DREARY TEAM

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DREARY HITTING, DREARY TEAM by Tom Brennan




I was excited coming into this season.  Reality will always, to some degree, intrude.  But it didn't for the first 31 games.  The Mets were hitting a lot of homers, scoring close to 4.5 runs per game, and sitting pretty at 20-11.


Then reality set in...33-37 over the past 70 games, getting great pitching, but DREARY hitting.  A mere 3.35 runs per game, leaving the team at 372 runs, 28th in baseball, a mere 3 ahead of San Diego and 21 ahead of Atlanta.  Very close to the bottom.  And 190 behind the Red Sox.  It is what Met teams historically do - score in the bottom third of baseball teams.  Offensive impotence is part of this team's genealogy.  Root, root, root for the home team - while they sputter.  And they sit squarely at the bottom in terms of batting average, at .238.  Thirtieth out of 30.


Of course, the .238 is much, much higher than the team's batting average with runners in scoring position, which has not been dreary - it has been dreadful, including yesterday.


Yesterday was yet another day that Jake deGrom pitched his heart out and got shafted, not due to Familia - more on him later - but due to this ownership's inability to develop or acquire offensive talent - or, in the case of Murphy(.351/.391/.619), keep it when it is right under their collective noses.


Jake has won 29 of his 70 starts (41%), despite more than a strikeout per inning; a career 2.59 ERA; and the fact that he helps himself with the bat.  This year, he has won 6 of 17 - 5 losses, 7 no-decisions - despite a 2.56 ERA.  Why?  The dreary hitting.


Solution?  Spend money.  Consider that we only got Cespedes back because he got cheap.  The owners are cheap always, fingers firmly crossed...and we get dreary hitting - how bad would we be had we not lucked back into Cespedes?  Historically bad.


Jeurys Familia has pitched in a ton of games this year and last - partly because every game is close because the team's offense is dreary.  He's just plain tired.  Worn out, perhaps.  Mechanical Terry Collins' luck finally ran out there.


How would this team have looked if they were brilliant like the Yanks, got Chapman for a few low level prospects instead of Bastardo, spent a little more on Chapman, got rewarded with 105 MPH-induced fan delight, and then could have auctioned him off for a club's best prospect a few months later (as the Yanks just did), or kept him and had the best darned bullpen in Mets' history - one where Familia is tired, Chapman steps right in. 


But the Mets did not pursue Chapman because of salary cost differential...forgetting that by getting an elite reliever like Chapman, their record would be better, they'd be more exciting, he'd help draw more fans, etc.  How much in cash would it have cost for the Yanks to buy the guy they just got?  $40 million?    Seems like the YANKS understand true baseball economics.


So the Mets are dreary - because they are cheap - and actually stupid enough to think de Aza would be their quality starting CF before Cespedes miraculously dropped into their laps.


I've had it with cheap.  I've had it with dreary.   My brother?  100% agrees.  How about you?



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Reese Kaplan – Playing Shorthanded

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So once again the decision makers at the New York Mets have decided rather than allow players to go on the disabled list to recover properly from injury they will voluntarily play shorthanded and handicap the already challenged manager. 

Take Yoenis Cespedes.  When his quad injury occurred, they figured they would ride it out.  He missed 9 straight days from the time he left early, then missed another game the following week and is on the shelf again now.  Doesn’t it seem reasonable to think that had he been given the 15 days in a row off when the injury occurred that he would be healed and in playing shape by now?

Then there’s Jose Reyes.  Has anyone had an intercostal muscle strain?  It’s quite painful just sitting and doing nothing ,let alone playing sports at the professional level.  Every time your torso twists it feels like a knife slicing into you, but the Mets feel a day or two of rest will make everything all better.  Did they tell him to rub some dirt in it and get back out there?  According to various online sources on recovery:

"The recovery time for a muscle strain in the ribs can take around two weeks for a mild strain, three to four weeks for a moderate strain, and up to eight weeks for a severe strain. Even if there is a muscle tear, these injuries usually don't take longer than eight weeks to heal. Your doctor may advise no lifting or strenuous activity for a few weeks. Also, bed-rest or quiet rest in a chair may be required. During the time, you may need anti-inflammatory medications (Ibuprofen) and muscle relaxers to relieve muscle spasms."

The only silver lining to this one is that Wilmer Flores (remember him?) is finally getting some at-bats. 

Now the torn thumb ligament of Juan Lagares was also magically supposed to heal with a few days of rest and therapy.  In this case they did allow him to go onto the DL, but rushed him back.  Surprise, surprise, he’s back on the DL again.  Hey, no one likes to send a player under the knife for surgery when it spells the end of his season, but you have a long term investment in the man and you’d think they’d want him healed as quickly as possible rather than having him play through it and perhaps exacerbating the injury. 

So tonight look for an all-lefty outfield of Michael Conforto,  Alejandro De Aza and Curtis Granderson as the team has pretty much no one else except occasional outfielder (and fellow lefty) Kelly Johnson to trot out there while they again play shorthanded.  Could we see Jose Reyes make his talked about but never happened debut in the outfield?  Nope, he’s on the shelf, too. 

Come to think of it, going into this game Skipper has a bench of the aforementioned Johnson, a catcher and Brandon Nimmo.  Is it any wonder the team can’t win?
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7/27/16

Reese Kaplan -- Trade Deadline Stagnation

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As the trade deadline approaches the Mets are apparently seeking bullpen help.  After Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins, the remainder of the warm bodies tested out there have had mixed results at best.  This announcement is somewhat surprising as they are apparently content to live with Logan Verrett as the 5th starter despite his 5.23 ERA, 18 Ks and 15 BBs (along with 32 hits) over 31 IP. 

Then again, in 2015 the team was struggling mightily to score runs but after the addition of bench pieces Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, the first acquisition made was Tyler Clippard (followed soon by Addison Reed and the ill-fated trial of Eric O’Flaherty).  Yoenis Cespedes, of course, eventually came to fortify the offense. 

This year the rumor about Jonathon Lucroy was interesting as he is indeed a solid bat, but when I floated the idea of approaching the Brewers about him earlier when Kevin Plawecki was getting the lion’s share of the ABs, nothing was done.  Still, he’s not going to add a Cespedes-like charge to the offense. 

We’ve all heard the rumors about various bullpen arms who might be acquired.  I have a few thoughts about quality pitchers they might have considered:

There’s one middle reliever to consider who has a 1-2 record, but a nice 3.05 ERA and a very impressive 0.992 WHIP over 33 games.  There’s another rubber armed pitcher who is 2-1 with a 2.90 ERA over 43 games.  Then there’s a third off to a fast 16 game start with a 3-1 record, 3.00 ERA and a terrific 1.067 WHIP.  All three of these players were once NY Mets and sacrificed for absolutely nothing in return. 

The first pitcher is the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Bowman unprotected in the Rule V draft after a minor league career in which his worst year prior to 2015 was a 3.22 ERA.  He hit the usual wall in Las Vegas and the Mets foolishly decided to put him up for grabs. 

The second pitcher was a surprising cut by the Mets – Carlos Torres – who turned in two excellent years for the Mets followed by one poor one.  He was cut loose probably more in fear of what he might earn than due to that one outlier season.  He did nearly double his pay to the $950K range this year but he’s certainly earning it. 

The third pitcher was a result of a bump from the 40-man roster when barely given an opportunity to show what he could do at the major league level despite some pretty gaudy minor league numbers.  Dario Alvarez was DFA’d and the Braves astutely picked him up.  He’s rewarded their faith quite nicely through his first 16 games.  The Mets gave him a whopping 5 innings combined over 2 seasons and declared him a failure. 

Lest we be too harsh on Sandy Alderson, when he tired of some proven mediocrities and cut them loose – Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Ruben Tejada, Anthony Recker, Eric Young, Jr., and Juan Uribe – none have come back to haunt the club.  In fact, one might even question why the Mets were enamored with them as long as they were. 

Oddly, for a club that eschewed the free agent marketplace for a long time as a way of filling roster vacancies, the 2016 club is mostly comprised of a great many free agent acquisitions.  This year saw Jim Henderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Alejandro De Aza, Yoenis Cespedes, Antonio Bastardo, Jerry Blevins and Jose Reyes all come to the Mets by them choosing simply to go for the money.  James Loney was a cash transaction and no resources were sacrificed in that deal either.

In fact, the only trades that Alderson has made are the Pittsburgh Pirates deal sending Jonathon Niese for Neil Walker – edge to the Mets – and the very silly Braves trade sending Akeel Morris for former 2015 Met Kelly Johnson.  Granted, with a .250 average as a Met last year, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but you sacrificed a quality arm who thus far in the Braves system is 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA and 22 Ks in 17.1 IP.  You could have had Johnson for dollars alone.  Now you pay him the dollars and lost a prospect to reacquire him.  That’s a clunker of a deal (though not quite as bad as the Alejandro De Aza or Antonio Bastardo disasters). 

Today the Mets said the Lucroy deal is off the table but relievers are still on their radar.  I guess there will be plenty of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 losses for the remainder of the year.  At least they will have battled.  
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7/25/16

LOWER MINORS HIGH RISERS

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LOWER MINORS HIGH RISERS by Tom Brennan

Some Mets' LOWER MINORS guys are showing signs of being HIGH RISERS.  Here's a few (list not all-inclusive):

TOM SZAPUCKI: the 20 year old lefty fireballer had his debut for the Cyclones yesterday: 5.1 shutout innings with 8 Ks.  In 34 innings in 2016, 0.52, 55 Ks.  Pretty brilliant.  Next Mets ace?

HAROL GONZALEZ: the 21 year old eighty is dazzling in Brooklyn, with a record of 2-1, 2.14, 0.90 WHIP, 52 Ks in 42 IP.  LITTLE PEDRO?

DESMOND LINDSAY: last year's 2nd rounder has played very little, but his recent play has been promising: he's been on base 11 of 21 times.  Stay healthy, Desmond, and keep up the .545 OBP.

KEVIN KACSMARSKI: OK, not so low minors, but in his first 12 games in St Lucie he is hitting .391, with an OBP of close to .500.  After hitting .355 in his Kingsport debut last year, to me he looks like he could be another Brandon Nimmo type.  And Nimmo is up to .338 with 7 smacks in Vegas, not counting his smile bomb in Queens.

PETER ALONSO: this year's 2nd rounder is hitting like a Cyclone in Brooklyn. After 15 games, .315/.413/.574. Like the pop.

DAVID THOMPSON: another recent graduate to St Lucie, the only thing finishing the 4th rounder in 2015's accomplishments this year is losing about 20 games to injury. In 79 games, he has a whopping 70 RBIs, 36 extra base hits, and is a shade under .300.

BEN GRISET: also not so low, Ben has tossed 41 innings for St Lucie this year in relief, allowed just 3 earned runs, and has a 0.85 WHIP.  3-0, too.

PJ CONLON: couldn't not include the finesse lefty, who between Columbia and St Lucie is 11-2, 1.93 in 18 starts this year. Sterling.

ANDRES GIMINEZ: the 17 year old is flourishing in the DSL with .338/.450/.507 in 38 games.  Bonus baby doing real good.

That's my list folks.  G'day.
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7/23/16

Reese Kaplan -- Time for a "Grand" Farewell?

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After a horrific start to the season which reminded many of his 2014 Mets debut, Curtis Granderson has come on strongly over the past several weeks, raising his home run total to 16 and on a pace to potentially reach 30 for the season.  He’s under contract for the remainder of this year and next which means the acquiring team must pay him $16 million for his services and that pro-rated amount for the remainder of this season. 

He’s the ultimate “good citizen” and not just in a baseball sense.  His charitable efforts in both the New York and Chicago areas have been fantastic and he’s probably got a career in broadcasting when he decides to close his locker for the last time. 

Why then would it make sense to consider moving him in the right deal? 

Right now the Mets have a logjam in the outfield.  Superstar Yoenis Cespedes is likely going to get his way and play LF for the remainder of the season.  Michael Conforto, while no Gold Glover, is certainly adequate in the outfield and will be pushed to RF where he has a whopping 4 games of experience.  That leave the true Gold Glover, Juan Lagares, with nowhere to play since Granderson makes too much money, and, combined with his recent hot streak, he’s going to be in there nearly every day.  Unfortunately Granderson’s legs and arm make him a liability in the outfield, though he has more experience out there than the rest of the other options combined.

Now some would say it’s foolishness to consider dealing away one of the few productive bats on a team that struggles to score runs, but I would suggest that he’s got decent power but little else.  What they need are fewer all-or-nothing types of players.  They’re treading water right now with the lineup they field every day and in September will likely have a virtual Granderson clone returning in Lucas Duda. 

Everyone knows the club is reeling from the Matt Harvey injury and the Antonio Bastardo/Erik Goeddel implosions in the bullpen.  With very little available on the farm to offer in trade, you have to start thinking about what the club needs to win and how they can reshape themselves into thunder and lightning offense with some decent power complemented by some base running ability.  At one point Granderson provided that as well, but at age 35 he’s slowing down and speed isn’t much a part of his game anymore. 

Of course, any prospective trade of Granderson also opens up the question of who takes the outfield roster spot?  While the quick answer is Brandon Nimmo, it would mean having two left handed replacements in Nimmo and Alejandro De Aza.  Would the payroll savings possibly be the push needed to part ways with De Aza and let a right handed outfielder such as Travis Taijeron finally see the big leagues? 

With the manager apparently committed to Jose Reyes at 3B, having Juan Lagares batting in the two hole would give the club two players to set the table for the thunder that follows from Cespedes, Conforto, Duda (when he returns),  Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis d’Arnaud and even the Haley’s Comet frequency of Wilmer Flores starts.  What the club gets right now is a lot of solo homers.  Granderson’s almost imponderable stats – 16 HRs and only 29 RBIs – is the best evidence of that phenomenon. 

If you assume after his contract ends, he won’t be offered another one, then you’re really looking at sacrificing the rest of 2016 and his age 36 season in 2017.  Personally, I could live with that if it meant bringing on board a pitcher or two who could help, or a high quality AA outfield prospect who might be ready to play towards the end of next season. 

To some extent I know I’m grasping at straws, having previously entertained the notions of trading Neil Walker and an astute reader suggested Asdrubal Cabrera.  I’d like to see SOMETHING done in the way of signaling you’re actually trying to improve the club.  Would you offer Granderson straight up for Tyler Clippard, knowing you’re taking on his $6.12 million salary for the remainder of this year and next?  I’d certainly have to consider it, knowing you pocket $10 million in payroll savings next year and the pro-rated amount this year to go towards addressing other needs. 

Thoughts?
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7/22/16

MINORS SMITH 2016 VS. CONFORTO 2015

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MINORS - SMITH 2016 VS. CONFORTO 2015 by Tom Brennan

As a follow up to yesterday's Dominic Smith article by me, I thought it would be interesting to compare Smith of 2016 to Michael Conforto of 2015 in the minors to see how the two stack up side by side.

CONFORTO 2015:

Age 22, .297/.372/.482 in 91 games, 54 RBIs, 12 HRs.  At bats split roughly 50/50 between High A and AA.

SMITH 2016:

AGE 20/21, .294/.353/.466 in 90 games, 12 HRs, 67 RBIs.  All at bats in AA.

What an eye opener...virtually identical, except Smith is doing it younger, against stronger competition (all AA), and Smith is knocking in more runs with the support of (in my opinion) a weaker offensive squad than Conforto had in the minors last year.  Michael, after all, had Rosario, Nimmo, and Smith hitting alongside him at times last year.

It has to make one wonder if Smith, were there openings in Queens, is just as ready as Conforto was last year.

My point?  Don't count Smith out as being on this Mets team in September if there is a pennant race.  And don't count him out as the Mets' 2016 first baseman next year - probably premature to consider that, but let's see what Smith does the rest of this year.  



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7/21/16

SMITH ON FIRE by Tom Brennan

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SMITH ON FIRE by Tom Brennan

Let's be honest, Dominic Smith was plodding along with a low power, low average season through June 23.  Made me start to think perhaps he was another bad Mets pick, hitting just .259 with 4 homers through that date. 

Somebody must have walked up to him and said, "hey, Smitty, my lad, you turned 21 last week, you're on the clock now", because he hit a homer on June 24 and now has 8 homers and 24 RBIs over his past 23 games, while raising his average 35 points to .294, going 34 for 86 (.395) over that stretch.  Hey, his 67 RBIs on the year aren't shabby neither...on his way to 100.

No doubt, he has been energized by the stupendous AA debut of 20 year old Amed Rosario hitting in front of him, coincidentally, for 23 games, during which he has hit a mighty fine .379 and scored 20.  Rosario has a superb 54 RBIs this full season to go along with his overall .327 average for 2016.

Two future stars.

On a closing note, Belfast-born PJ Conlon lost last night, a rarity which happens when your team scores ZERO.  PJ allowed just 1 run (one too many, sadly), and is now 11-2, 1.93, 1.01 on the season.  Quite a season.  Amazing.

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7/20/16

Reese Kaplan -- Why Can't the Mets Develop HItters?

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I couldn’t help noticing the batting averages of the Chicago Cubs players as they came to bat in this series.  With the exception of (surprisingly) Jason Heyward, there are no easy outs.  It seemed like nearly everyone was over .280 with power.  Ithey lose a Kyle Schwarber and up comes a Willson Contreras.

t got me to thinking about the New York Mets and how few homegrown hitters they’ve developed over the years.  It makes you wonder the reason for the greater success in honing pitchers than in finding guys who slug the ball.  Also, the dearth of hits with runners in scoring position points to another flaw in the winning formula.  Remember how the Royals seemed to make every at-bat a tough out?  How many tough outs are there on the Mets?

How much of this offensive dearth is the result of bad drafting?  How much of it is bad talent evaluation on the trade front?  How much is the result of bad coaching?  How much of it is the pressure of being asked to play in New York?  How much of it is the manager benching the players that are hitting until they grow cold and create a self fulfilling prophecy for why they’re not starting?  Or is it a combination of all of the above?

Then there’s the question of hitting philosophy.  It seems the Mets have precious few players who know fundamentals like hit and run, hitting behind the runner, bat control and working the count.  Again, how much is on the player, how much is on the hitting coach and how much is on the manager?

Anyone who’s watched the team doesn’t need to know the actual numbers to underscore the difficulties, but bear with the most obvious ones.  Asdrubal Cabrera who has had a fine season overall has not had a hit with a runner in scoring position since May 23rd.  Curtis Granderson has clubbed 16 HRs this year but has only 29 RBIs to show for it.  Is it any wonder the Mets are at or close to the bottom in just about every offensive category?  David Wright still leads the team in steals with a whopping total of three!!!

Of course, the club is doing itself no favors with the AAA club in hitter-happy Las Vegas.  Look at the roster of high .300 hitters who have flourished there and it’s filled with luminaries who have gotten a look such as Ty Kelly, Eric Campbell, Josh Satin, Brandon Nimmo and Johnny Monell.  Then there are those hitters who for reasons of 40-man roster status do not get a look, including T.J. Rivera, Travis Taijeron and Gavin Cecchini.  The problem is that the stats are so over inflated that you don’t know whether or not the gaudy numbers will be replicable in the majors.

The flip side is the number the altitude and dry air does to the minds of the pitchers.  There are a great many who hit the wall while playing for the 51s, including Rafael Montero, Matt Bowman and Darin Gorski.  Some move on and become productive players (like Bowman) while others may be beyond repair.  News came out today that the owners of 51s are looking to get a new stadium on the outskirts of the city with proper cooling, luxury boxes and all the accouterments of a modern minor league franchise.  It doesn’t change the weather nor the altitude, however, so it is akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

Today it was announced that Lucas Duda will return to light baseball activities starting Monday with an eye towards returning him in September when the rosters expand which would allow them to keep both he and James Loney around.  It’s ironic that Loney, a singles hitter above .280 is likely being shown the bench when the team can't put men on base, but Wilmer Flores can tell him what it’s like to do your job and only get to watch..

By the way, did you happen to catch Jose Reyes’ mental gaffe in the 9th inning vs. the Cubs last night?  With runners on 1st and 2nd the batter hits a spinning bunt down the 3rd base line which was headed right into foul territory but Reyes’ shortstop instincts likely kicked in and he felt compelled to field it.  To add insult to injury, he didn’t get the batter running to first and it loaded the bases.  Jeurys Familia tap danced out of the bases loaded and no one out situation to preserve the win, but it was sure looking ugly.

To be fair to Reyes, he did pull a triple to RF which lead to the Mets’ first run, but the offensive road has been a rough one for the guy so far.  If he’s not hitting and not fielding and not drawing walks, why is he playing every day?  I know, I know…Collins has just got to get him going.  It’s going to go down in Mets’ history as a derisive refrain alongside “We battled.”
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