1/17/18

Michael Friere - Who is Josh Harrison?

8 comments


After reading a couple of different articles on this blog of late, not to mention a few comments, I started thinking about a player that has been mentioned quite a bit by the name of Josh Harrison.  A lot of names get bandied about during the “hot stove” season and his has been a popular one.  It is easy to say “trade Player X and Player Y for Josh Harrison”, but what would that acquisition do for the Mets?

Taking a step backward, it is my personal belief that the biggest void on the Mets’ roster this year is at second base and an accompanying void is at the top of the batting order.  With a limited bench due to a possible eight man bullpen, it makes sense to try and fill a void with a player that can “kill two birds with one stone” so to speak.  Some folks here would prefer that Wilmer Flores get a shot at second base, or even Asdrubal Cabrera (if the Mets solve their third base issue with a different player).  I like both players well enough, but neither of them are lead off hitters and they would be adequate at best with the glove.   In 2018, I want my second baseman to be above average defensively and I also want him to be an effective leadoff hitter, which brings us back around to the original question.    Who the heck is Josh Harrison?

Josh is currently a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, where he fills an important “utility type” role for the ball club.  He is listed as a second baseman, third baseman and an outfielder, which makes him quite versatile.  Looking a bit deeper, he has played in 722 games over seven seasons for the Pirates.  Of those games, here is his positional breakdown;  2B - 310 games, 3B - 264 games, OF - 110 games, SS - 37 games, DH - 2 games and Pitcher - 1 game (interesting).  I am statistically inclined, so using percentages, Josh has played roughly 84% of his games somewhere in the infield, with 2B (43%) and 3B (37%) being the most common.

There is more, but so far, this seems to fit in very well with our current roster issues, right?

Looking at his defense, it won’t necessarily blow your socks off when compared to someone like Omar Vizquel.  However, he has more then held his own, especially when you consider he was bounced around the diamond.  All of the positive value that his versatility brings also has a negative affect on his defense, since you cannot get settled at one spot on a daily basis.  With that said, he still has a respectable 4.7 dWAR over his career and as a bonus, his best fielding position has been 2B, where he has a .985 fielding percentage and he has only committed 20 errors in 310 games (average of 10 errors per season).   I would wager that if you put him at 2B for a full season, his fielding rates would stabilize and he would be more then adequate.

So far so good, he is versatile and he fills a need on the current roster.   But wait, there’s more!

Over the course of seven seasons, he has appeared in 722 games, largely due to his first couple of seasons in the league where he was a part time player at best.  If you divide 722 games played by 150 games (an average season for most players), you get just under five full seasons (4.8) for statistical purposes.

With that said, his average offensive line looks like this;

.281/.321/.414 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and .735 OPS

9 HR - 48 RBI - 15 SB - 67 R

2.85 WAR

His 2017 season was actually above those numbers, so he is trending in the right direction and he is capable of leading off for most teams in the league, in my humble opinion.  So, he fits a need on the roster and in the lineup, by all accounts.

Hold on!  Fred is on the phone and he wants to know what Josh's contract looks like.

Josh is signed for the 2018 season at $10,250,000 before entering two additional option years, valued at $10,500,000 (2019) and $11,500,000 (2020).  They are team options that also have a buyout of $1,000,000 (2019) and $500,000 (2020), so if he was acquired and things didn’t work out, you could conceivably get out from under his contract at a fairly cheap rate.   In short, his contract is basically three years at $32,250,000 with very little downside when you factor in the option years.   That’s pretty good value for a player of his ilk and he is only available because the Pirates seem to be going “full Marlins” for the coming season.

Lastly, what will be the cost of obtaining him in a trade?   That is something I am less confident about, but if the Pirates are looking to slash salary and to add some talent to their minor leagues, then I am sure there is a match somewhere.  Brandon Nimmo’s name was mentioned in one of the articles that I saw and he would be a nice start for the Pirates.  With Cespedes, Conforto (eventually), Bruce and Lagares on the roster, Nimmo is expendable for the right player.  Yes, it would leave the roster a bit short if Conforto is delayed to start the year, but that could be addressed with a veteran stop gap type player and it shouldn’t be for long.

We also have a surplus of pitching, especially minor league bullpen arms.  So, maybe Nimmo and a couple of relievers for Harrison?  If he Mets take most of the money in the deal, I think the Pirates would be happy to move on from Josh’s contract.

In closing, I think Josh Harrison is a perfect fit for the roster and at the top of the lineup where we currently don’t have anyone capable of leading off.  He will mostly play 2B, but he is also capable of playing 3B which would come in handy in 2019 or 2020 if another prospect makes it to Flushing and takes over 2B, like Luis Guillorme.  Additionally, his contract is manageable and it also has an escape clause in the form of option years, if he doesn’t work out.

That’s who Josh Harrison is and I think Sandy needs to get on the phone with the Pirates!





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01/16/2018 Winter League Results | Caribes Advance to Venezuela Championship Game, LIDOM Playoffs Rained Out

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Arizona Fall League
- Completed on November 18th
(Recap can be found here.) 


Mexican Pacific League Playoffs
- No Games Scheduled


Venezuelan Winter League Playoffs
Leones del Caracas 5 - 6 Caribes de Anzoategui [Anzoategui Wins Series 4-1]


Dominican Winter League Playoffs
Aguilas Cibaenas vs Gigantes del Cibao [PPD- Rain]
Leones del Escogido vs Tigres del Licey [PPD- Rain] 

Round Robin Standings(3 games remaining)
(photo via LIDOM twitter account)


Roberto Clemente Puerto Rican League
- Gigantes de Carolina 1 - 6 Criollos de Caguas
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Reese Kaplan -- Who Goes North to Queens?

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So here we sit less than a month from pitchers and catchers reporting, but there are a number of holes and questions surrounding the NY Mets prospective roster going north with the club.  It's nice to see Yoenis Cespedes, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares and Amed Rosario already voluntarily working out in Port St. Lucie.

Now it’s possible that trades or FA signings could take place between now and then, but given the inertia that has earmarked the Sandy Alderson administration, you would think that what you have is likely what you’re going to get. 

As it stands right now, the Mets have 42 men for the 40 man-roster.  Neither Jay Bruce nor Adrian Gonzalez have officially been added as players though word has filtered out about a press conference today scheduled to make the Bruce deal official.  They’re stalling on the basis of physicals being passed and also theoretically to work out trades of people who otherwise would have to be dropped from the roster to make room.

If you were handicapping the 25-man roster race you would have to assume a certain number of givens:

Adrian Gonzalez (barring major injury or horrendous spring)
Wilmer Flores
Amed Rosario
Asdrubel Cabrera
Travis d’Arnaud
Kevin Plawecki
Yoenis Cespedes
Juan Lagares
Brandon Nimmo
Jay Bruce
Jacob deGrom
Noah Syndergaard
Matt Harvey
Steve Matz
Jeurys Familia
A.J. Ramos
Jerry Blevins
Anthony Swarzak

I count 18 sure things to be on the roster assuming none are dealt away in…what do you call it again when a competent general manager exchanges players on his roster for players on another team’s roster that you think can better help your team to succeed?  I don’t remember!

Michael Conforto, David Wright and T.J. Rivera are all likely slated to start the year on the DL.  The arrival of a left handed first base only option like Gonzalez means that the other left handed first base only alternative, Dom Smith, is probably ticketed for AAA as he still has minor league options available.  Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Paul Sewald, Chasen Bradford, Hansel Robles, Chris Flexen and Josh Smoker all have options, so their spots on the 25-man roster are far from guaranteed.  Kevin McGowan and Matt Reynolds are probably hanging onto their spots by their fingernails.    Rafael Montero is out of options.  Then there are the collection of newcomers who got a cup of coffee in September who will likely be given a look in spring training, including Jacob Rahme and Jamie Callahan.  Others on the 40-man roster have not advanced enough in the minors to be in consideration.

Rumors abound that the club is looking at an 8 man pen.  Add 5 starters and 8 position players.  That leaves just 4 roster spots for the bench.  Let’s see if the season started today if we can figure out who would come north.

One name I have not yet mentioned is Zack Wheeler.  His health has never been the same since the initial injury and he is taking the Mets to arbitration.  Being a somewhat vindictive organization (and one tired of waiting for his potential to be realized), I fully expect he is being shopped in trades right now.  I will be very surprised if he comes north with the club, but if he does, it may be as a relief pitcher rather than as a starter.  That would be the 5th arm in the pen.

Paul Sewald looked unhittable for long stretches last year and I suspect he’s got an inside track to getting one of the remaining spots.  He is a “traditional” reliever with closing experience in the minors.  He seems almost a lock.

Josh Smoker is left handed and that most definitely stands in his favor.  He is the very definition of a live arm, but control has been his Achilles heel.  Still, the strikeout numbers make pitching coaches drool and he’s likely locked up one of the other bullpen spots. 

With 7 arms already identified, the final spot comes down to a battle between Hansel Robles, Rafael Montero, Chasen Bradford, Jacob Rhame, Jamie Callahan, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.  Now a reasonable person would think that you could parlay some of this excess right handed pitching into left handed pitching, but hey, what do I know? One of those three starters -- Gsellman, Lugo or Montero -- will likely earn 5th starter rights if Wheeler is indeed bullpen bound.  

One dark horse candidate to watch who is not on the 40-man roster is lefty Kyle Regnault, salvaged from the independent leagues to show great success in the pitching hell of Las Vegas.  He managed to appear in 34 games yet maintained a respectable 3.28 ERA.  He’s no kid at 29 but just as they once rescued Scott Rice to be a gray haired rookie, so too might they venture down that path again with Regnault. 

If the season opened today the Mets would only have four outfielders – Cespedes, Bruce, Lagares and Nimmo.  One would think a multi-position player who could handle both infield and outfield duties would be made to order, like Howie Kendrick.  Oops…2 years and $7 million total for a guy coming off a $10 million salary apparently was not to Mr. Alderson’s liking. 

Kevin Plawecki has sewn up one of those available roster spots.  Wilmer Flores, warts and all, can play any of the four infield positions but if the season started today he’s likely the guy penciled in at 2B.  Nimmo has another spot.  So you have two vacancies.  One is likely a true infielder and one is likely a swing man infield/outfield type. 

Of the bodies on the current 40-man roster you have Gavin Cecchini who has played both middle infield positions, Matt Reynolds who has played both infield and outfield, and Luis Guillorme who has not played above AA.  There are no additional outfielders.

It would seem that the final few roster spots are yet to be determined and will likely require an infusion of people from outside the organization unless you are prepared to go with Cecchini and Reynolds along with Plawecki and Nimmo on the bench.  That’s not exactly Murderer’s Row. 

I have suggested that the Adrian Gonzalez thing could be a prelude to a trade involving one of the younger first baseman – Smith or Pete Alonso.  There is an excess of pitching.  There are a few decent prospects on paper in Corey Oswalt and Marcos Molina.  Wilmer Flores is also a desirable chip for other clubs.  So too might Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares have trade value.  For the folks who say the Mets have nothing to trade, I think they’re selling the resources short.  Now to say they may not have the smarts, the creativity or the chutzpah to pull the trigger – those are fairer assessments. 


In conclusion, barring any surprises, I see more Jose Reyes in the team’s future.    It's the familiar, the reasonably priced and the least creative thing Sandy Alderson can do.  Write it in ink.  
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1/16/18

Hot Stove - 1-15 - 1-16-17

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The Toronto Blue Jays have entered into a one year, $5mil agreement with ex-Met OF Curtis Granderson.

The San Francisco Giants have traded RHP Kyle Crick and OF Bryan Reynolds to Pittsburgh for OF Andrew McCutchen.

The Minnesota Twins have signed ex-Mets reliever Addison Reed to a 2-year, $16.75mil deal.

The Washington Nationals have agreed to a two year, $7mil deal for IF-OF Howie Kendrick.

Arizona has signed ex-Mets P Tyler Pill to a minor league contract.




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01/15/2018 Winter League Results | Jalisco Staves Off Elimination in Mexico, Lara Sweeps Magallanes in Venezuela, Robles Ejected in LIDOM Debut

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Arizona Fall League
- Completed on November 18th
(Recap can be found here.) 


Mexican Pacific League Playoffs
Mayos de Navojoa 0 - 3 Charros de Jalisco [Novajoa Leads Series 3-2]


Venezuelan Winter League Playoffs
Leones del Caracas 0 - 5 Caribes de Anzoategui [Anzoategui Leads Series 3-1]
- Cardenales de Lara 11 - 9 Navegantes del Magallanes [11 innings] [Lara Wins Series 4-0]


Dominican Winter League Playoffs
Gigantes del Cibao 8 - 5 Leones del Escogido
Tigres del Licey 7 - 3 Aguilas Cibaenas
  • RHP Hansel Robles: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB [Ejected in the 7th inning for arguing balls and strikes]
Round Robin Standings(3 games remaining)
(photo via LIDOM twitter account)


Roberto Clemente Puerto Rican League
- No Games Scheduled
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Tom Brennan - HEY, CAN I PITCH TOO?

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Tom Brennan - HEY, CAN I PITCH TOO?

Mack posted on December 31 that there are a slew of bullpen candidates for the 2018 Mets - and that is so true.

Will many get a chance to pitch in Queens?   If it was 2017 all over again, they sure would.

Why? In 2017, the Mets were forced to use 28 pitchers, and 29 if you add Kevin Plawecki and his emergency innings.  


No wonder the US unemployment figures have plunged!

2017 was a fluky (and pukey) Mets pitching year indeed.

In the 3 prior seasons, by comparison, the Mets used just 22 pitchers in 2 of the 3, and 26 in the other, season (2015).

A stark contrast to 1969, where the Championship Mets used just FIFTEEN pitchers, and in 1985, as the Mets fought the Cardinals tooth and nail right to the bitter end, with no time for scrubs to pitch, where they used just 17 pitchers. 

My guess is with greater pitcher health in 2018, we may see about 25 pitchers used, give or take.  


But, Heavens to Murgatroid, who will they be?

First, some WON'T be.  Pitchers from the "Fantastic 28 of 2017" that won't pitch for the Mets in 2018 include Adam Wilk, Fernando Salas, Tommy Milone, Tyler Pill, Josh Edgin, Neil Ramirez, Eric Goeddel, and Sean Gilmartin.  Buh bye, fellas.  That gets us down to 20.  And now that Addison Reed is a Twinkie, count him out, getting us to 19.  

Obviously, in those remaining 19, there are five guys (Callahan, Rhame, Bradford, McGowan, and Flexen) who were mostly minor leaguers called up towards season's end - but they each did get their toes in the water.  Nice to have that sort of a head start on others yet to see the big leagues light of day.   Especially Mr. Bradford, who done real good.

Other than those 5 newbies, there were 14 other guys who were more of the 2017 core, however injured they may have been: Jake, Thor, Matt, Steve, Zach, Lugo, Gsellman, Rafael, Jeurys, Jerry, Hansel, Ramos, Sewald, and Smoker.  Add in Anthony Swarzak and you have fifteen.

Thirteen of those fifteen are likely to go north either on opening day or get called up and pitch within the first week. 

In April of 2018, the Mets (with good health) likely would like to use no more than 15 or 16 pitchers.  And maybe Mickey Callaway will want to use more guys for less innings, which could bring April's tally to 17.

If the Mets do use my projected 25 pitchers in 2018, the aforementioned 20 core, and toes-already-in-the-water, guys are most likely to get first dibs, absent trades or spring training injuries.  

Who amongst the minor leaguers who've not yet made the big leagues are most likely to be in the final five that brings us to my expected target of 25 pitchers in 2018?


My list, in probability order:

Likely at some point in 2018:

Tyler Bashlor: his high heat gets him to Queens by Sept.

Corey Oswalt: could be mid- or late-season starter call up.

Kyle Regnault: great 2017 in high minors. Give Kyle a shot.




Less likely in 2018:

Drew Smith: young quality pen arm that came is a trade - I see a September call up for him.

Tim Peterson: great in AA, but the inn in Queens is packed.

Marcos Molina: trailing Oswalt as a starter call up option.

Gerson Bautista: see Bashlor; further behind. 2019 ETA. 

Kelly Secrest: lefties are valuable if one goes down.

Ben Griset: see Secrest.

Dave Roseboom: see Secrest.  Needs 2018 to show health.

Matt Purke: some MLB experience, but not great IMO.



Very long shot in 2018:

Logan Taylor, Josh Prevost, Ricky Knapp:

* Trio of decent high minors arms facing tons of competition.

Matt Blackham: great in Full A; High A, AA, and AAA still to go - too many levels to cover, so see ya in Queens in 2019.

Mickey Jannis: ya never know..he improved & is a wild card.
Former 44th rounder and knuckle baller is an odds-beater.

Justin Dunn: poor 2017 makes 2019 look like his ETA.  Lots of ground to cover in 2018/



Hope I did not overlook anyone obvious.  

I am pretty nearsighted, you know.


These fellas better not relax one iota in their pursuit - 
there are, after all, tons of other minors arms behind them hoping to break through in 2019 thru 2021.  

Which is my next article's topic, naturally.
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1/15/18

More or Less? (Conclusion)

6 comments


If you read all six of the previous installments of this series, you should be aware by now that the inspiration for this series of articles came from watching the game show "The Price is Right".  While that may seem a bit strange, a couple of the games within the show ("Now or Then" and "More or Less") made the contestants guess whether a displayed price was above or below the actual value of the same.

Translating that to a baseball team, you can use the "average" statistics for a given player as your "displayed price" and then guess if their production for the coming season will be above that threshold, or below the listed standard.

Hopefully with a few exceptions between now and the middle of February, the Mets overall roster is largely complete.  It also contains certain players who will be much more influential (positive or negative) on the team’s performance then other members of the roster.  In a previous article, I used the term “foundation pieces” to describe these players as they will likely be the reason that the team wins or fails to do so.  

We can argue about who the "foundation pieces" are, but in my opinion there are six that were selected for the series;  Yoenis Cespedes, Jacob DeGrom, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Jay Bruce and Jeurys Familia.  Yes, there are other players on the roster who will have an impact and some may even develop in a future "foundation piece" (like Amed Rosario).  However, if any of the six listed players goes down for an extended period, or they fail to produce as expected then our chances for the 2018 campaign would be severely compromised.

So, for a final tally on our votes, here is the list for your reference;

***Yoenis Cespedes - MORE
Jacob DeGrom - MORE
***Michael Conforto - LESS
***Noah Syndergaard - MORE
Jay Bruce - MORE
***Jeurys Familia - MORE

Interestingly enough, five of the six players were voted to exceed their career statistical averages during the 2018 season.  Granted, four of the six players (designated by asterisks) missed a substantial amount of time last year, so a simple return to health ought to result in better performance.  Another way of looking at this phenomenon is to view the four players as ADDITIONS to the roster when compared to the 2017 version that only won 70 games.  

If you take a random 70 win team and add a healthy and productive Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia to the roster, your fan base would be ecstatic.   Hell, your GM would be lauded as a genius and your outlook would include a return to relevance and a possible trip to the playoffs.  I know we had the players on our roster already, but getting them back for a full season will have a HUGE impact on the team.  

I actually considered putting a seventh "position" within this series but changed my mind because it would have been hard to develop a "baseline performance" for comparison purposes.  The switch from Terry Collins to Mickey Callaway has the potential to impact the roster in a similar fashion as any of the aforementioned "foundation pieces".  Granted, Terry has a "not so stellar" track record (hello Reese), but Mickey does not have anything to draw upon as the guy in charge.   So, our guesses on whether the manager's position will have MORE or LESS impact then last year is based purely on personal opinion.   In my case, I would vote MORE, since one of the main issues last year (before and after the spate of injuries) was with the day to day management of the roster, to include the bullpen. 

Having an analytical, pitching centric manager (aka "The Pitching Whisperer") that specializes in taking care of his pitchers will have a positive impact on the Mets' roster.  I view that change as the most influential "factor" for the upcoming season.

In conclusion, the Mets' chances in 2018 are largely tied to the health and performance of their "foundation pieces".  If the voters on this blog are an accurate barometer of what will occur, then I think the Mets are in line for a rebound season and they should be in contention for a wild card berth when all is said and done.










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01/12 - 01/14 Winter League Results | Carrillo and Aguilas Swept in Mexico, Mora's Wheels Wins in Extras, Torres Gets Surprise Start in Puerto Rico

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January 12th

Arizona Fall League
- Completed on November 18th
(Recap can be found here.) 


Mexican Pacific League Playoffs
- No Games Scheduled


Venezuelan Winter League Playoffs
Caribes de Anzoategui 4 - 0 Leones del Caracas [Series Tied 1-1]
Navegantes del Magallanes 2 - 7 Cardenales de Lara [Lara Leads Series 2-0]


Dominican Winter League Playoffs
Gigantes del Cibao 3 - 4 Tigres del Licey
  • PH Jhoan Urena: 0 for 1
Leones del Escogido 2 - 3 Aguilas Cibaenas [11 innings]
  • PR John Mora: Stolen Base, Game Winning Run Scored

Roberto Clemente Puerto Rican League
Indios de Mayaguez 4 - 3 Gigantes de Carolina
- Criollos de Caguas 3 - 8 Cangrejeros de Santurce


January 13th

Arizona Fall League
- Completed on November 18th
(Recap can be found here.) 


Mexican Pacific League Playoffs
- Mayos de Navojoa 6 - 3 Charros de Jalisco [Novajoa Leads Series 2-1]
- Aguilas de Mexicali 0 - 6 Tomateros de Culiacan [Culiacan Leads Series 3-0]
  • C Xorge Carrillo: 0 for 3, 1 SB Allowed

Venezuelan Winter League Playoffs
- No Games Scheduled


Dominican Winter League Playoffs
- Tigres del Licey 2 - 5 Leones del Escogido
- Gigantes del Cibao 3 - 1 Aguilas Cibaenas [10 innings]


Roberto Clemente Puerto Rican League
- Gigantes de Carolina 8 - 1 Indios de Mayaguez
- Criollos de Caguas 1 - 9 Cangrejeros de Santurce
  • PH Arnaldo Berrios: 1 for 1

January 14th

Arizona Fall League
- Completed on November 18th
(Recap can be found here.) 


Mexican Pacific League Playoffs
- Mayos de Navojoa 9 - 4 Charros de Jalisco [Novajoa Leads Series 3-1]
- Aguilas de Mexicali 4 - 6 Tomateros de Culiacan [Culiacan Wins Series 4-0]
  • C Xorge Carrillo: 2 for 4, R, 2B, RBI, 1 SB Allowed, 1 Runner Thrown Out

Venezuelan Winter League Playoffs
Leones del Caracas 2 - 3 Caribes de Anzoategui [Anzoategui Leads Series 2-1]
Cardenales de Lara 7 - 5 Navegantes del Magallanes [Lara Leads Series 3-0]


Dominican Winter League Playoffs
- Leones del Escogido vs. Gigantes del Cibao [PPD- Rain]
- Aguilas Cibaenas 7 - 6 Tigres del Licey
  • CF John Mora: Defensive Replacement
Round Robin Standings(4 games remaining)
(photo via LIDOM twitter account)


Roberto Clemente Puerto Rican League
- Criollos de Caguas 7 - 3 Gigantes de Carolina [DH- 7 innings] 
- Criollos de Caguas 4 - 10 Gigantes de Carolina [DH- 7 innings]
Indios de Mayaguez 1 - 2 Cangrejeros de Santurce [DH- 7 innings]
Indios de Mayaguez 1 - 2 Cangrejeros de Santurce [DH- 7 innings]
  • RHP Joshua Torres: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
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Reese Kaplan -- On Motorcycles and Trading

37 comments

There's a long preface necessary to make my point about Mets potential trades, but the analogy is solid.  

Back in 2013 I was involved in a bad motorcycle accident.  Well, to be truthful, it was a bad scooter accident but the motor vehicle agency gave me a motorcycle endorsement on my license so that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!  I broke seven ribs, a foot and a thumb when I T-boned a Chevy Aveo when the woman driving it ran a stop sign. 

After a few months of recovery I wanted to get back in the saddle but the original ride was totaled.  My wife was always against me riding at all, and now with that crash she was dead set against it.  However, when she wound up buying a car she didn’t really need I think she was feeling guilty and actually spent a Saturday shepherding me around to the various motorcycle dealers.


Now at this time I was looking to transition to a real motorcycle but what caught her eye was something called a Suzuki Burgman which the magazines and riders term a “Maxi-Scooter”.  By that they mean it is motorcyclish in power but still retains the scooter format of storage under the seat, a platform for your feet and automatic transmission.  She said, “You’ll be safer on that thing – look at the size of it!”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that in a collision with a car, it didn’t matter if you were on a Harley Road King and you ran into a Smart Car, you were going to lose that battle.

I thought about it and realized if this is what it was going to take to get her to mentally accept I was going to continue riding, then I’d get it, use it for awhile and then upgrade.  It turned out to be a pretty nice ride, actually, capable of going 115 mph (not that I ever tested that maximum speed, Officer), and held enough under the seat that I did Thanksgiving grocery shopping one year while riding it. 


I still had the itch to learn to shift gears and ride a “real” motorcycle, so I ventured up to Albuquerque and bought a mint condition Suzuki Savage that looked as if it has just rolled off the showroom floor despite being several years old.  For people not familiar with the bike, picture a chromed-out Harley that shrunk in the dryer.  A few Sundays in a quiet industrial park area and I was fully confident in the whole new riding experience.  I sold that little Suzuki for a nice profit but still had the big Suzuki Burgman in the garage.  In fact, the running joke at the time was between the Suzuki, my wife’s Fiat and my Porsche, my garage had morphed into a museum honoring the losers of World War II.


I listed the Burgman for sale for nearly a year in multiple places and never got a bite…not a single call, text nor email showing any interest whatsoever.  During that time I’d purchased a Moto Guzzi Griso which I still ride but the Burgman was collecting dust in the garage.  Finally I hit upon a plan to rid myself of it once and for all.


I headed to what is claimed to be the world’s largest Harley dealer here in El Paso and negotiated a deal to trade it in on a Buell 1125CR sport bike with a more upright seating position (as the fractured ribs didn’t make the hunched-over position of a typical sports bike comfortable).  The idea here was to get a bike that would be appealing to flip to someone else and thus get out from under the big Burgman.  After riding the Buell for about a year, I did just that, put it up for sale, broke even and was able to recoup my investment in the Burgman that I never wanted in the first place.  As I’m in the market again right now for an additional bike, I thought about the parallels of what the Mets may want to do going forward to rid themselves of their “Burgmans”. 

A.J. Ramos and Jeurys Familia are both slated to earn a decent paycheck this year.  They have something else in common.  Both are approaching free agency in 2019.  Right now Familia’s value has plummeted between his injury and his off-the-field antics last year.  Consequently the more marketable of the two of them is A.J. Ramos.  He’s older and earns more money which also makes him more desirable for the Mets to trade away. 

Then there’s former Gold Glover Juan Lagares.  He signed what was supposed to be a team-friendly contract after his one standout year in 2014 but he’s been both unable to stay on the field and never developed offensively.  Right now the club is on the hook for $6.5 million in 2018 and $9 million in 2019.  With the 3-year deal given to Jay Bruce and the long term deal for Yoenis Cespedes, that makes Michael Conforto your man in centerfield (if not a true centerfielder).  Consequently $15.5 million for a bench player over the next two years is not money well spent. 

If I’m Sandy Alderson, what I’d be doing right now is looking for his Buell.  It may not be the ideal player he wants or needs, but he must get out from under these contracts even if what comes back in return is a bit off-center from the “plan” that we’ve all never seen.  Towards that end, he should be scouring the contract statuses of various players on other teams that are set to expire at the end of 2018 or 2019 just as he did when he acquired A.J. Ramos to help offset the impending loss of Addison Reed.  By securing Ramos he gave himself the backup position of a second year of team control (albeit an expensive one) should Familia not recover. 

By looking to move these players you make it possible to strike a deal for someone previously thought to be out of your price range.  I’m not saying it will happen, but just for the sake of argument you wanted to target Robinson Cano for second base.  He’s currently earning $24 million and getting Seattle to take back Ramos, Lagares and the never appreciated Wilmer Flores means his incremental cost is a very palatable $6 million or so.  Now it would never happen because Seattle has playoff aspirations and it’s not just a one year commitment to Cano, but that’s philosophically how you would sell your Burgman and get your Buell.  Then if things went completely south, you could flip the Buell, er, Cano to get something else. 

Now even though second base is considered a position of need (or third if you shifted Cabrera to second), the fact remains that there are a lot of Buells out there who play different positions.  Remember, the end game is get rid of what you no longer want and to get back something another club may desire.  It's time to get creative.  




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1/14/18

Mack’s Apples – Starting Over, Santa Rosa Baseball, Dillon Gee, 3-mil Baseball Cards, TJS

29 comments
Good morning.


The New York Mets should perform a ‘Derek Jeter 'and start from scratch –

           
Consider this …

Using a different chart from Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Noah Syndergaard has four years of arbitration due (beginning this season) before he becomes a free agent in 2022, and Jacob deGrom has three years before he earns his freedom in 2021. Team control over both these players is over, and their salaries will rise each season dramatically during the arbitration process. How long will it be before the Mets say, uh-uh, see ya later, because they can’t quite afford them, unquote?

Matt Harvey will be history after this season when he becomes a free agent, and both Steven Matz and Michael Conforto will begin their arbitration years in 2019. If the penny rich Mets can salvage just one of all the players mentioned when they’ll be $100+ million valued as free agents, it’ll be considered a miracle.

            Didn’t I say this last week?


Santa Rosa baseball clinic benefits kids who lost homes to fires –

         
  On Friday, about 220 young baseball enthusiasts — a good many of whom lost their homes in the deadly wildfires in October — will get a chance to learn skills under the tutelage of baseball veterans, including some big leaguers, minor leaguers and area standouts. It’s part of a four-hour clinic and fundraiser at Epicenter in Santa Rosa to benefit youth baseball players who have lost their homes.


Dillon Gee signs with the Chunichi Dragons –



2018 Mets International signees (thanks go out to Jacob Resnick - www.http://metsminors.net  for this) - 




        


         In 2011, Gee went on that magical 8-0 run, which caused even ESPN to turn heads. Gee would end up finishing the year with a 4.43 ERA and a 13-6 record. Not bad for his second year in the majors.

I’m thrilled that Dillon has become a seven figured pitcher. Enjoy the sushi.

(I took this picture of Dillon, with his original Mets number of #73, when he came to his first spring traing)






Collector giving up 3-million  baseball card collection -
                      
                 
After nearly 60 years the collector who spent a lifetime accumulating 3-million baseball cards – weighing five tons - says it's time to say goodbye to his prized possessions.

Soon, each and every card will be up for auction, but he says it was a hard decision to make.



Have We Passed Peak Tommy John ? –

        
   There were concerns that sports specialization, the focus on velocity over feel for the craft, was stressing arms even before they arrived in the majors. It seemed possible that rising league-average velocity marks — for which there’s now a new record set each year — were creating demands on pitchers’ elbows that their bodies couldn’t withstand.

Tommy John surgeries reached a record level in 2014, a level surpassed again in 2015. Velocity kept inching up. Pitchers with medical histories and red flags kept flowing into the game via the draft. Said Pirates GM Neal Huntington to this former newspaperman in 2014:

“They were blown away by the number of significant injuries high school and college pitchers had this year compared to three years ago, five years ago. The level of injuries is growing exponentially,” Huntington said. “We are just starting to get to the front edge of this (Tommy John surgery) wave. We might not even be through the worst of this yet.”


Maybe I’m wrong here, but it seems that the Mets are currently behind the curve here.
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