2/6/16

Reese Kaplan -- Looking Ahead to 2017's Lineup

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This week former Mets wunderkind Doc Gooden proclaimed the pitching staff the 2016 team has the stuff on which dynasties are built. That lofty praise is accepted as common wisdom by most fans and the results the team has seen from Messrs. Harvey, de Grom, Syndergaard, Matz and Wheeler are certainly enviable. However, what about the lineup the team will provide to match these golden arms? Will they be able to put up enough offense to give the Mets a chance to win on a nightly basis?
The biggest and most surprising acquisition of this off-season was the eleventh hour contract signed by Yoenis Cespedes. His market never developed as his agents had hoped and he opted to take a variation of what's come to be known as a pillow contract – a one year deal designed to allow him to reestablish his value as one of the game's top sluggers. In other players' cases, these contracts are low cost one year deals designed to let a player prove his worth after either an off-year or an injury-lost year in order to cash in with a longer term deal the following season.
What differs here are two aspects. First, the one year deal is monstrous – the largest in team history. Although some of it is structured as signing bonus and some as salary, the net result is a $27.5 million payday for Cespedes to help try to let the Mets go for it all in 2016. Second, the deal is for three years with a player opt-out. It's a little puzzling in that the risk is really more on the Mets than it is on Cespedes. If he produces as everyone hopes, then he could very well test the market once again. However, if he either doesn't produce or decides he really likes it here, then the Mets are on the hook for two more years of $23.5 million per season. I'm betting he never tests the waters as he found this year that the AAV of contracts exceeding $23.5 million are not exactly cluttering up agents' desks. I'd pencil him in for 2017 and 2018 as well.
The next highest valued player is the former face of the franchise, David Wright. While everyone holds their collective breath wondering what his spinal stenosis means for his playing future, the fact remains that the Mets are on the hook for $20 million, $20 million, $15 million and $12 million that makes him a very well paid player through the end of the 2020 season.
The next player earning big bucks is Curtis Granderson. His first year in the blue and orange was not what they'd hoped for him when they gave him the $64 million contract. Last year he earned his paycheck and also somewhat surprisingly thrived in the role of leadoff hitter given his paltry stolen base numbers and high strikeout totals. Oddly, a solid 2016 might put him squarely on the trading block in 2017 as he might be appealing to another club needing a one-year answer in their lineup.
Newly acquired Neil Walker is as good as gone for 2017. He's already earning more than Daniel Murphy ever did and even with a great contract year season the fact remains the Mets have inexpensive options for next year. There's Dilson Herrera, Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cecchini (with Asdrubal Cabrera shifting to second...it doesn't seem like anything Walker could do would keep him in Queens. In fact, if Herrera is tearing it up in AAA I wouldn't be surprised to see Walker peddled in July.
Asdrubal Cabrera seemed to be something of a panic move in that he's not exactly Ozzie Smith with the glove and his offense was a tick below what Wilmer Flores provided last year. Still, with the overall weak up-the-middle defense any step in the right direction to correct it is probably welcome. He's not getting overpaid and he could shift to the other side of the infield if Cecchini can build on his stellar season in 2015 with a full season in Las Vegas.
Next on the payroll pecking order is big Bartolo Colon. He's also gone at year's end (if not sooner) as Zack Wheeler assumes his role as starting pitcher in his place in July.
This season is pivotal for Lucas Duda who's earning a modest $6.725 this year, but another 25-30 HR season could net him close to $10 million in 2017. Again, the money to pay the pitchers has to come from somewhere and they may well decide he's potentially going to cost more than he produces. Still, with a team somewhat bereft of sluggers it may not be prudent to pull the trigger in favor of the unproven (and thus far not power-hitting) Dominic Smith.
Alejandro De Aza is overpaid to sit on the bench at $5.75 million, but I've come to terms with it thinking about what Juan Uribe earned last year in a similar role Uribe got 397 ABs which were probably expected for De Aza at the time he was signed but delivered 14/43/.253 while being paid $6.5 million. De Aza would likely deliver that or better if given the same number of Abs. Unfortunately for the Mets the premature signing at this price point was rendered somewhat superfluous with the reacquisition of Cespedes. It's all water under the bridge and it's likely De Aza won't last the year in a Mets uniform anyway.
I've probably been more critical of Ruben Tejada than anyone, but the $3 million he's earning this year isn't going to bankrupt the team. In a way, it's money more well spent for his defined role than the nearly double that allocated to De Aza. Still, you have to wonder if a minimum wage guy like Matt Reynolds could achieve the same .255 average with no speed and no power that Tejada provides in hopefully very limited playing time behind Cabrera. I can't see him having a future with the team with Gavin Cecchini at minimum wage knocking on the door.
Just as it's a pivotal year for Duda, it's also a critical one for Juan Lagares. He's set to earn $4.5 million in 2017, $6.5 million in 2018, and $9 million in 2019 with a 2020 option for $9.5 million with a $500K. The money is modest for a Gold Glove caliber outfielder but excessive for a 4th outfielder. Success on the field could lead them to keep him and trade the more expensive Granderson. Or another way to go is keep the starting outfield intact for one more year and trade Lagares. Finally, at $4.5 million for 2017, that's still less than they're paying De Aza for this year, so they could just keep him.
While none of the rest of the offensive players will earn significant money in 2016, there are still things to consider. For example, would moving Travis d'Arnaud to another position make sense? What about shifting David Wright across the diamond where he might not have to be as mobile as 3B would require him to be? Those decisions could impact Lucas Duda's future with the team as well.   
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Mack’s Morning Report - 2-6-15 – Sandy Alderson, Yoenes Cespedes, Mets Rotation, Brandon Nimmo

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 Good morning.

Someone emailed me and asked why I sometimes make reference to articles that were written a few days before my Morning Report posting. Frankly, I do that for two reasons.

One, I try to work two days ahead to get the Morning Report done. Secondly, it’s not the article that’s the main objective here… it’s the comments I make about the article that I hope will generate some comment activity.



 Ken Davidoff wrote about the Mets 2016 salaries and Sandy Alderson’s comments at the press conference for the re-signing of Yoenes Cespedes

“Well, look, we could be somewhat below 140 going into the regular season. There are a couple of marginal situations on our roster where things could change a little bit,” Alderson said at the news conference welcoming back Cespedes to the Mets. “So I don’t think we’re going to be as mindful of the 140 number as most of you in the media. But in a sense, in terms of order of magnitude and assuming we continue to play well, we don’t anticipate going back to those prior levels.”

Mack – I continue to be unaffected about the total amount of money spent on the 2016 Mets. My concern is whether keeping Alejandro de Aza is a better thing than signing a less talented outfielder that would fill the OF-5 role for a lot less of Mets money spent. My stance will always be it’s their money to spend and now there seems to be enough money around to create this kind of talent depth.
I’d stay with the current plan because you never know what can happen injury wise.


Yoenes Cespedes

           "It’s not always about the amount of money being offered. It’s about being in a place that you want to play in, that you’re happy in. That’s just what happened in this case. I’m very happy to be putting on my Mets jersey again. I know that this team has everything it needs to continue on with what we started last year. ... I can say that from my first day when I came last season, that very first day, the fans just showed incredible support. My teammates were so welcoming, as well as the full Mets organization. From there, I just knew that I wanted to come back.”

                    Mack – Have we written enough about this guy?

           Nah, not when he can come up with gems like this one told to Adam Ruben and the guys with the tape recorders.

           I just have this feeling that Yo is going to be complete healed, both physically and mentally, and be leading the National League in both home runs and runs batted in by the All Star break.

           Sit back and watch and see.



 John Harper adds his two cents about extending the contracts of the Mets young pitchers -

           And then there’s that pitching.

As early as next winter the Mets might have to start making hard decisions in order to maximize value before the pitching becomes too costly. By then they surely will have approached Matt Harvey about locking him up long-term, and if agent Scott Boras says no thanks, as is his history, they’ll have to consider trading him while he would still be two years from free agency.

All of that could further impact the way the Mets view Cespedes next winter, presuming that he does opt out, because at some point every decision they make will have ramifications for any plan to pay their young guns.

They won’t be able to keep all of them, but Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz won’t even be arbitration eligible for a two and three more seasons, respectively, with free agency still way off in the distance.

          Mack – This isn’t a new subject.

The 2016 Mets seem to be set, while the only major changes in 2017 look to be a fifth starter a second baseman, and a lefty reliever, all of which will probably come from the system (Zack Wheeler, Dilson Herrera, Josh Edgin/Josh Smoker).

The next big two transactions need to be the creation of an extended contract for three years past the arbitration process of two of the ‘Big 4’ in the rotation (Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard,  Jacob de Grom, Steven Matz).

After pulling the Cespedes signing out of the Alderson hat, I frankly wouldn’t even rule out the chances for Harvey here. The team seems a little charmed lately.



 Breanna Susa scouting report on OF Brandon Nimmo

Nimmo is quick on his feet. He shows plus-fielding and great range. His arm according to scouts is average but with experience and strength training I can only imagine it being eventually above average. (Scouts were wrong about Conforto)  He is projected to be an everyday Center Fielder.

The Mets love his approach at the plate. His pitch selection has been outstanding. In 2015, Nimmo almost had more walks than strikeouts, and a league-leading OBP. Nimmo sprays line drives all over the field and covers the entire plate. Portrayed as a number 2 hitter, Nimmo is projected to hit .280 or .290 in the Majors while hitting 15 home runs.
He will be starting the 2016 season in Triple A. I envision Brandon Nimmo as a mid-season call up if someone ends up on the disabled list.  However, if all goes well for the Mets and they stay injury free, he will be a September call-up, along with Mets highly ranked SS prospect Gavin Cecchini. If Nimmo stays healthy in 2016, all Mets fans will get to see him shine under the Citi Field bright lights.

Mack – Those female beat writers do love their Brandon Nimmo.

Seriously, if he can stay healthy… again, IF he can stay healthy… we could have a real decent future platoon outfielder here, but, in my opinion, that’s as far as this draft pick will fly.

And, there’s nothing wrong with another successful platoon outfielder. This the template for Mets outfielders.


But… he first has to stay healthy and play an entire season in AAA to get his game to Queens someday.
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2/5/16

Ernest Dove - Is Mets Wilmer Flores Ready to Be 'Super Utility Guy"?

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  I continue to be on the fence with this..... I really do.  I love Wilmer Flores. I want Wilmer Flores to keep being a Met.  I want Wilmer Flores to get at bats. I believe in Wilmer Flores ability to adequately play defense.  But I keep trying to figure out if 'utility guy' is the best role for the young man.

 Wilmer Flores is STILL only 24 years old.  The kid is not eligible for free agency until the next decade starts. And he will enter 2016 seemingly in the same position he's been in throughout his recent professional career, which is wondering where he will play, how long he will play there, and how often.
  As a major leaguer, from 2013-2015, Wilmer has played 154 games at SS;  58 games at 2B and  27 games at 3B.  He's made 18 errors as a shortstop, and only 3 total errors as both a SS and 3B combined during this span.  He then, obviously, has also never played a major league game as a first baseman.  As a minor leaguer, Wilmer has played 1B in 20 games, 19 of them starts. 118 games at 2B and 98 games as a third baseman. So conceivably, no position Wilmer is projected to play in the coming season will be new to him.  But I'm wondering about everything that has gone on with Wilmer in the past 3 seasons.
  Wilmer has continued to work extremely hard, in ever aspect of his game, to succeed as a major league defender.  We've had many arguments about his abilities, range, arm strength, wildness of throws, and possibly strength in turning double plays from 2B rather than SS.  But in the end the main possible argument was that Wilmer seemed to never get comfortable from the start of his career as a major leaguer because there was no stability in his specific role and place with the team and the organization. 
  Let's not forget that Wilmer was a career .292 hitting minor leaguer with a  .774 OPS.  Over three years now as a major leaguer, Wilmer has accumulated 837 career major league at bats, and sports a .253 BA and a .673 OPS.  We would see glimpses of solid hitting from Wilmer at times, and many might see that succeed being tied in with stability and health playing one position. Wilmer will now be asked to possibly play 4 different positions, on any given night, and possible start in many of those games, for a playoff contending team with World Series aspirations. I guess at this point I'm wondering when the real Wilmer Flores will please stand up.
  There were times throughout Wilmer still beginning career in which the kid seemed to always find a way to put the ball in play and rack up RBI's and be clutch while doing it.  And obviously we may all never forget the post trade/emotional outcry Walkoff that will live on for centuries for us fans, but the playoffs in 2015 concluded with Wilmer hitting a combined .195 and going 1 for 17 in the world series. So now what?  Do we chalk it up to experience and lessons learned?  Was it the pressure again that may have been felt, this time knowing that Tejada, who had earned the respect of the organization and the fans during the run had been knocked out and unable to share the load on the baseball world's biggest stage?  Or was it maybe the pressure of a young man battling through an ending of the season in which he struggles to accumulate any RBI's and heard rumblings even publically from his own coaching staff that he was 'tired' during that stretch.  I guess maybe I can look into a few other things in play here.
  In his 837 career major league AB's the young man has struck out 117 times.  I'm sure we can all throw a ton of names of guys in the majors who've struck out a ton more, is less at bats, per year.  The fact has also been that Wilmer Flores makes contact. My buddy Scot has pointed out numerous times that last year it appeared that Wilmer may have started really being pull happy, and even though we enjoyed all kinds of April and early May homers, the season continued and Wilmer seemed to possibly have trouble with pitches on the outside, instead of his sweet spot which seems to always been down and in. But again, adjustments can always be made.  His age can still have been a factor. The pressure, even with finally having a form of consistency in a position, can remain a factor.  But 2016 is a season of positivity within the entire organization, its fan base and the players alike. This team can and should competing to win each and every night, and be favored to win on most of these nights. Can Wilmer help lead this team back to the playoffs while having no consistency, yet technically a form of consistency in the form of possibly regular at bats?
  Well, anyway, here's another random factoid for ya.  Wilmer is listed as being 6ft 3in tall.  Lucas Duda is listed at 6ft 4in tall.  I believe the weight of each might be little different on these guys but lets not forget that Wilmer was always 'tall' for a middle infielder, and so first base should not be considered out-of-position for him. 
  And, in reality, think about it another way.  Wilmer Flores, in my non expert opinion, has always been pretty sure handed, and many agree that he can make the routine play.  These skills can fare him well at first base, can continue to fare well at second base, and I believe his arm, minus the concerns for his accuracy, remains plenty strong enough to hold down the fort at third base.
  And perhaps shortstop at this point is now actually a comfort zone for him, so let's count that as a positive.  Which brings back and forth on my own question, which is how do we all really feel about this possible for him? 
  Can Wilmer continue his solid contact rate?  Can Wilmer perhaps make more effort to go the other way on outside pitches, cut down on the 'pop fly swings' and continue to use his natural power to go back to being the solid doubles and homer guy that we have seen flashes that he can be? 
   And lets not forget that above all else, Wilmer Flores can hit lefties.  I've said this before and I'll say it again, even during the magical run of 2015 I was stating my own personal preference to actually have Wilmer bat CLEANUP against lefties for this team, especially and obviously from April to July of that year. And for the season, Wilmer batted .310 with a .950 OPS against opposing lefties.  So regardless of position, I believe this is the kid of split that has to seriously come into play during the upcoming season when also choosing times to play him and where to play him.
  All in all, as usual, I've come up with a post posing a question, and I end up talking around it and possibly taking both sides of said argument.  But hey, that's kind of my thing.  I argue with myself on my own posts, and I beg and plead with the Mack's Mets readers to jump and do the same.

 So let me have it...............What does everyone think?  Is this the perfect role for Wilmer Flores? Does everyone still want him on our favorite team?  Will some continue to cringe every time he steps foot on the diamond to play SS? Can he consistently hit as a major leaguer and improve upon his lifetime BA numbers because he is contact oriented and possibly make the right adjustments as a just STILL 24 year old?  Let me know.
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Mack’s Morning News – 2-5-15 - Middle Infield, Lucas Duda, Marcos Molina, Victor Black

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Good morning.

Anthony DiComo wrote about the Mets middle infield –

Adding Cabrera and Walker does more than give the Mets a pair of durable veterans up the middle. Trickling down to manager Terry Collins' bench as well, those moves gel together to give the Mets platoon advantages on a near-daily basis, allowing them to deploy their entire set of infielders in situations that suit them. Consider: Flores, who becomes the primary backup at no fewer than three infield positions, slugged .600 against left-handed pitchers last season but only .358 against right-handers. Limiting his exposure to the latter should allow the Mets to upgrade their overall middle infield production -- and that's without mentioning the benefits of limiting Flores' defensive innings at shortstop.

Mack – Let’s face it… nobody loves to juggle players more than Terry Collins and he has to wake up every morning with a woody thinking of all the lineups he can come up with this season.
God… I just had a visual of that…



 Matt Cerrone on Lucas Duda and his passing on a long term extension a year ago -

This season, Duda was able to avoid arbitration by agreeing to a $6.7 million salary. If Duda regresses, the Mets will likely come out ahead by having those talks break down a year ago and not having Duda under contract for 2018. If Duda has a good season in 2016, he'll probably get close to $10 million in 2017, after which he'll be a free agent. And, of course, if he is terrible this year, the Mets can non-tender him after the season and not have to pay him.

The Mets are probably hoping Dominic Smith, who will be 22 years old at that point, will be ready to take over at first base when Duda is able to test the open market. I suppose it's possible the Mets begin considering whether to move David Wright to first base, as well.

Mack – Cerrone points out that everybody will probably win out here. Duda will be making around $10mil a year when he hits free agency and Smith will take over at first base as early as possibly next season.
And, as we all know, they both hit a ton of home runs… (for you, Dove)



 Teddy Klein on Marcos Molina

1. Marcos Molina - Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 188  Level: GCL & St. Lucie Mets  B/T: R/R  Age: 3/8/1995  Age Dif: -2.9 - Statistics: 44.1 IP, 9 games, 8 games started, 4.26 ERA, 49 hits, 11 BB 36 K

Profile: An athletic pitcher, Marcos Molina took the New York-Penn League by storm in 2014 as a teenager. However this year was a different story, being skipped to High-A, but struggling with an elbow injury and was ultimately shut down and then underwent Tommy John Surgery. At his best, Molina has a 92-94 mile per hour fastball that touches 96 that he pounds the zone with that is joined by a plus changeup and an above-average slider.

Molina’s delivery however is a worry since it relies on arm-speed and has little movement in his bottom half, which might create arm strain with overuse. We’ll see if he’ll hold together after Tommy John Surgery and reach his potential of a front-line starter.

Level: Rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery

Mack – I agree with Teddy that Molina has the potential to be the top pitching prospect in the organization, but it is simply too hard to project someone that is going through this kind of surgery and rehab.
The success of mostly all starters is velocity and it’s well known that something like this never comes back to the pre-surgery levels. We’re going to have to give him the 2016 season to heal and wait until 2017 to see what we have here.


And lastly… final words from ex-Met Victor Black -


As some of you may have gathered my time with the New York Mets is at its end. I didn't play for 10 years nor was I an All-star or contributor to last season’s amazing run BUT I'll never forget my time playing for the greatest fans/city in baseball. From walking the streets of Manhattan, to riding the 7 Line daily to Citi Field I was given moments I'll remember for my lifetime. See I get why a lot of people picture New York as giant skyscrapers, crazy taxis and busy, busy people BUT what gets the bad rap are exactly what make this city the greatest: it's the PEOPLE of New York. They are what make it "New York". I remember a moment during the All-star break in 2014. I had stayed in NYC for the break to just enjoy the city. I decided one night to go see a movie at the AMC Empire 25 theatre off 42nd. What's funny is I couldn't tell you what movie or if I had even enjoyed it but what happened next is why I get a bit teary eyed still to this day. You see I was walking out around 11 pm or so and had come to W42nd & 8th Ave and was waiting for the light to change so I could head home. Upon crossing the street there was an older gentleman in a ball cap walking the opposite direction as we passed each other I heard him say "Nice first half Vic! We are happy you are with us. Best of luck in the second half." I didn't love this because I was recognized rather because it was at its most intimate and simplistic level a perfect example of how the people of New York are. You were kind in welcoming me to YOUR family and I'll always have blue and orange running in my blood. New York captured my heart and nothing can ever take that away. You gave me a gift, experiences and moments I'll cherish forever. I'm counting the days till my next visit in whatever capacity it may be. I love you New York!
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2/4/16

Mack’s Morning Report – 2-4-16 – Achilles’ Heel, Alejandro De Aza, Astrubel Cabrera, Raywilly Gomez

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Good morning.


 Patrick Brewer writes about what he feels could be the Mets achilles’ heel in 2016 –

Despite all the goodwill flowing out of New York, and the fan support of the front office, the Mets still have a glaring Achilles’ heel that has gone unaddressed, and really, blatantly ignored so far this offseason.

For all the talk of the Mets great young pitchers, and their improved bullpen and the impact Yoenis Cespedes will once again have on the team’s offense, there is still one glaring area of concern.

In 2015, the Mets team defense wasn’t great.

Mack – Gee… who was that guy that kept saying that the Mets needed to improve their defense, especially down the middle of the field where most plays are made? What was his name? Mack somebody…

There’s one factor here that is hard to translate into stats.

Having a 5-man rotation that will either strike out batters, or create routine grounders or fly balls, will make this team look a lot better on paper.



 Skyler Steckler writes about the Mets outfield, in general, and Alejandro de Aza, in particular –

That leaves the final option: trading Alejandro De Aza before he even puts on a Mets uniform. It seems clear that the Mets didn’t think they’d end up re-signing Cespedes, or they likely wouldn’t have much such an effort to sign De Aza. To be fair, De Aza is a lot better than some of their options last year, so the signing isn’t inherently bad; he’s a career .267 hitter with a career .736 OPS and has a little bit of speed. The Mets simply aren’t a team that one would expect to be paying their 5th outfielder almost $6 million.

Mack – I don’t think many Mets fans reacted badly when the Mets signed de Aza. He seemed like a ‘diet-Cespedes’, especially if Yo wasn’t coming back.

Now, $6mil is a lot for someone that is going into spring training as the 5th outfield

As I’ve said on a previous comment, I’m happy with the current roster, but I would have no problem with trading de Aja for a future chip and then resigning Darrell Ceciliani if he’s still out there.



Jonathan Webb wrote a specific piece on Astrubel Cabrera and middle infield defense in general -

It will be interesting to see how Cabrera and Walker play the middle, how their double plays look, the range they bring to balls hit up the middle. We have some high strikeout pitchers, which should help lessen the number of opportunities for sure, but the middle infield still needs to make plays on a consistent basis. How many innings last year were extended because a double play was not turned? How many extra pitches were thrown because of an error? That is all certainly part of the game but if the Mets can end innings with lower pitch counts for their pitchers, it only extends their starts and keeps the bullpen fresh and healthy.



Michael Baron ‏@michaelgbaron  - Official: #Mets sign C Raywilly Gomez to a minors deal. Raywilly will be invited to big league camp.

Mack – Remember… you can’t have a successful pre-spring training unless you have a ton of catchers in your clubhouse to eventually work with all the pitchers you have invited to camp.

The Mets, like all the other teams, gather up as many catchers as they can find before ‘pitchers and catchers’ report, and Gomez will be one of them.

Normally they go away as quick as they arrive, but Gomez may stick somewhere. He’s only 25 and he did hit .291 in AA ball last season.
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2/3/16

Reese Kaplan -- Spring Forward, Mets Fans!

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Pitchers and catchers are due to report in less than two weeks now and the feelings of anticipation and optimism are something that are like playing dress-up in another team's fans' clothing. When was the last time the Mets entered February with so few questions that need to be answered?

Health

How are Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores doing after sacrificing their leg and ankle on the ball field while playing the game they love. Tejada's post-season takeout slide was on national television and has led to the national debate on what's right and wrong for middle infielders turning the double play with baserunners charging at them. Flores' story kind of flew somewhat under the radar when his hit-by-pitch during a November 26th game turned out to be more than a mere bruise and he was forced to sit out the rest of the Venezuelan Winter League.

Throw in the Juan Lagares into the list of walking wounded. While it was obvious to everyone except perhaps the Mets that something was wrong with Lagares' throwing last season, a period of rest betweeen the end of the World Series and the start of Winter League play led to reports of him looking more like the Gold Glover of 2014. With reacquisition of Yoenis Cespedes, his playing time may be limited to late inning defense and occasional starts against tough lefties when either Michael Conforto or Curtis Granderson are rested.

Jerry Blevins, Josh Edgin and Zack Wheeler all are working their way back from various injuries as well. Blevins broke his pitching arm twice last year, while the latter two are in different stages of recuperation from Tommy John Surgery. Fortunately there appears to be enough depth on the pitching front that they can afford to be patient with recovery times for all of them.

Everyone is also waiting with bated breath to see how a winter off has impacted David Wright's ability to stay on the field. Travis d'Arnaud is seemingly always a step away from a freak injury as well. Here's hoping they're carrying rabbit's feet or whatever it takes for them to stay healthy during 2016.

Defense

Last year the middle infield combination of primarily Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores wasn't going to make anyone forget Joe Morgan and Dave Concepcion. Murphy's gaffes tended to be mental while Flores' limitations were more of the physical variety. The newly imported duo of Neil Walker and Adrubal Cabrera should provide incremental upgrades in the field without sacrificing anything at the plate. They've rendered Wilmer Flores' bat and Ruben Tejada's glove into bench players.

Althought we saw a great deal of Yoenis Cespedes in CF last year, he was out there sort of out of necessity to keep his bat in the lineup. This year the Mets have bet at minimum $27.5 million that he'll be able to adapt to the role virtually every day. The jury's still out on that one and for what he's being paid he'll be under quite the microscope.

Although Kevin Plawecki had a very rough start to his big league career, other teams rapidly learned that starter Travis d'Arnaud is not really much of a challenge for would-be base stealers. As a result, there's a chink in the armor the team puts out to help minimize the damage when the other team is on offense. If d'Arnaud's bat continues to develop as shown during his healthy months of 2015, then a position switch to preserve his health and improve the behind-the-plate defense may be in the offing.

Bullpen

After shutdown closer Jeurys Familia, the Mets opted to retain Addison Reed for another season after his very impressive late year audition. Jerry Blevins should be ready to start the season as well. Then they shocked the baseball world by securing the services of lefty Antonio Bastardo for 2016/2017. Rumors abound that they're still in touch with Tyler Clippard to see if he would be amenable to a short term deal and that his shoulder fatigue that hurt him at the end of the World Series run won't resurface. In addition, they have options including Hansel Robles, Sean Gilmartin and Erik Goeddel. Rafael Montero, Logan Verrett and Dario Alvarez all have had brief glimpses of the big leagues and after proving themselves for awhile in Las Vegas could make themselves a part of the mix as well. That's already 7 named players (without Clippard) for the roster with three reserves. In addition you have Josh Edgin due back at some point and Bartolo Colon shifting to the pen when Zack Wheeler is deemed healthy. It's nice to have an excess.

Bench

In retrospect, the already questionable decision to extend a nearly Lucas Duda level contract to journeyman Alejandro De Aza to warm the bench looks doubly bad now that Cespedes is back once again. Behind him you have the aforementioned Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and Kevin Plawecki. Stories abound that Wilmer Flores is going to get a lot of reps at 1B to serve as a backup there as well, but it's possible another multipurpose player in the mold of (but perhaps more talent than) Eric Campbell could sneak his way onto the roster. A lot depends on whether they choose to go with a 5 or 6 man bench.

Speed

With a team featuring Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d'Arnaud getting 75% of the starts, there's a lot of double play possibilities in the team's future on the basepaths. David Wright and Curtis Granderson don't run as much as they once did either. The team doesn't feature a single starter likely to eclipse 15 SBs for the entire season. That's a slow team. On the bench De Aza showed 20 SB capability during 2013 and 2014, plus it appeared during the last two years Juan Lagares added running as a dimension to his game, too. None are the type of pinch-runner type like the one trick pony, Eric Young, Jr.

Strikeouts

Lucas Duda, David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson are all possibilities to exceed 150 Ks during the course of the year. Whatever happened to the patient philosophy of working the counts?

Conclusion

In the scheme of things, these minor issues and roster tinkering are the mark of a contender. No team is perfect but the Mets have precious few question to have answered during the soon-to-start Spring Training season. Assuming the solid gold starting pitching remains healthy, there's no reason they shouldn't be favored to repeat.  
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Mets Morning Report – 2-3-16 - Mets Revenues, The Columbia Fireflys, Luis Mateo

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Good morning.


I quote Fangraphs a lot because they write good stuff about baseball, in general, and the Mets, in particular.

 Craig Edwards had an interesting article on the Mets revenue coming in and how they could afford the deal with Yoenes Cespedes

A highlight of this is –

As a result, the Mets receives 12.5% of the gate for the first three games against the Dodgers in the National League Division Series and 42.5% for the final two games of the series. They receives 12.5% of the gate for the four games against the Cubs as well as the first four games of the World Series, and then 42.5% for Game 5 of the World Series. This year’s player pool was nearly $70 million dollars. With that knowledge, estimating the ticket prices with a 50% increase for the NLCS and then a 100% increase for the World Series, we can estimate the average Division Series games at $3 million, the Championship Series games at $4.6 million and the World Series games at $9.2 million for revenue. Using the percentages above, we come up with around $15 million. That the Mets played against the Dodgers, Cubs, and then in the World Series, it is reasonable to surmise that the Mets were involved in more expensive games than average. Add in concessions, and we are right around the $20 million mark that was reported in the New York Post.

Mack – Edwards goes on to say that estimates for a $25mil increase in revenues in 2016 seem to be on target so it will only get better.
                        
                    Check out the article.

I read a recent article in Mets Blogland that the depth of Mets prospects has been lowered both due to recent graduations to the parent team, but also the loss of all those secondary pitchers that were shipped out after last year’s all-star break.
I agree with this premise in general; however, there does seem to be building the potential of a power team being built this spring at the A-Ball level.

The Columbia Fireflys could have quite the prospect filled team in 2016.
The field is, well, filled with potential prospects:

C – Patrick Mazeika (22-yrs old) hit .354/.451/.540/991 for K-Port last season, ranking him as the #2 hitter in the league - MILB.COM APP PLAYER OF THE MONTH - POST-SEASON ALL-STAR - 2015: Kingsport (APP) - 8/2015: Kingsport (APP)

1B – Dash Winingham (20-yrs old) hit 12 home runs last season for K-Port, which tied him for the league lead in the Appzlachian League.

2B – Luis Carpio – (18-yrs old) maybe the Mets #2 infield prospect right now… a $300K bonus baby in 2013 that hit .304 for K-Port this past season.

3B – David Thompson – (21-yr. old) potential replacement for David Wright in Queens at 3B. Let the NCAA last season in both 19 home runs and 90 runs batted in for ‘The U’, Miami University of Florida. Oh… add 3 more and 22 ribbys as a Cyclone so his season ended with 22/112 in 459 at-bats.

SS – Milton Ramos (20-yrs old) hit .317 for K-Port in 2015

OF – Kevin Kaczmarski (24-yrs old) did Mazeika one better… he hit .355 and led the Appalachian League in hitting…. Has to move up quickly due to age –

OF - Desmond Lindsay (18-year old) 2nd Rd pick out of The Whole of the Wall Gang, or something like… completely off anyone’s top 200 prospect lists, and he heads to the GCL Mets and hits .304 in 69 at-bats.

Add to this…. Is the pitching, there’s the starting  potential of Nabil Crismatt (6-1, 2.90, 1.06), and the overwhelming amount of relief prospects blowing up all around us. Like –

P J Conlon – The 21-year old that hasn’t given up a single earned run in the 17 professional innings he has thrown so far.

Alex Palsha – The 23-year old threw in 22 Cyclones games, producing staggering stats of 0.36, 0.77

Carlos Valdez – The 24-year old threw in 24 Brooklyn games and produced a 1.59/1.09 stat line

Craig Missigman – Missigman spent the 2015 season with Brooklyn, where he pitched in 21 games and produced an 2.34 ERA and 1.15 WHIP

Corey Taylor – first major league experience for the 22-year old, pitching 18 innings for Brooklyn and producing a stat line of 1.50/1.00

The Mets could really stack the deck here and produce quite the powerful team to play in the Sally League this season.



Teddy Klein brings up a ‘blast from our past’ -

47. RHP Luis Mateo - Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 230 Level: Rookie, Short-Season A, and A B/T: R/R Age: 3/22/1990 (25)  Age Dif: +3.6
Statistics: 17 G, 22.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 12 H, 6 BB, 24 K .152 BAA
Profile: Signed at 20 out of the Dominican Republic, he was someone who had misrepresented his age by 2 years and had bone chips in his elbow. He was suspended for 1 year, and then signed in April 2011 for 150k. He seemed like a good get, throwing 92-96, touching 98 as a starter with a plus slider. However, in 2013 he suffered a torn UCL and underwent Tommy John Surgery. Now he’s making his comeback and early reports have his fastball in the low-90’s with still a pretty good slider. He is still regaining velocity and if he returns to what he was before, he can become an asset for the Mets in the bullpen. Look for him to return to St. Lucie.

Mack – I happen to think the Mateo train has left the station, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in 2016.


            Let’s see what he can come up with.
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2/2/16

Mack’s Morning News – 2-2-16 – Terry Collins, Doc Gooden, Curtis Granderson, Brandon Nimmo

26 comments


Good morning.

Terry Collins

            “We’ve got to go back. Let’s win it all.

“We can do this. We talked last spring about the postseason and we did win. Now what are we going to do to get the ultimate win, to finish this thing off?
“You create your own expectations. How are we going to go about doing that? I’ll tell you exactly how: We’re not changing it up much, but we’ve got to run the bases this much better, we have to strike out this much less, play a little more defense in the World Series.

You got to have those expectations. If you are afraid of it, you are in the wrong sport. You talk about goals in baseball, there is no bigger goal, and until you get to the World Series, you don’t really understand how much fun it is.’’

We have to take a look at Kansas City and learn something. They made it a point, ‘We’re going to go back and we’re going to get this done.’ That was their mantra the entire year. We have to have a similar one.’’

            Mack – This was from a NY Post interview by Kevin Kernan.

It seems to me he said all the right things, at the right time. And, this seems to be the same kind of focus Kansas City had after they lost the 2014 World Series. It was important for them to pick themselves up and make sure they finish what they started in 2014. This seems to be what Collins is saying here.



Doc Gooden

            “With the pitching they have they can start a dynasty here. These guys are crazy good. No one wants to face them. I loved them re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, because even with those great arms, you have to score runs and he brings that fear to the middle of the order. All the attention is on him and the other hitters can just do their thing. I’m a fan of the game and a fan of the Mets and Yankees, and I look at the game totally different, but if I could, if I were the owner of the Mets, I would try to lock these guys up now. Buy out the arbitration years and two or three years of free agency. They are that good.’’

                        Mack – More from Kernan of The Post.

            I don’t know how much access Doc has to Sandy Alderson or the Wilpons, but I hope his thoughts on locking up the pitching gets to the front office.

Can you imagine having Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard under control through the three years AFTER their scheduled free agency period?

           
From Hobie  (Conrad Youngren) - 

Mack, let me share what has been rattling around in my corporeal attic, perhaps you could share & comment.

You know I was not in favor of the Granderson signing.  In the 13-14 off-season I was hoping Sandy would re-sign Byrd.  He wanted 2 years and SA bought 1 yr of Chris Young early in the shopping season.  Fangraphs, among others, thought it was a steal and I shrugged:  Ok, I understood (I thought) the 1 vs 2 year thing.  You & I discussed bringing Beltran back, but that would have had to been for 2 and evidently…  I mused about a RF platoon of den Dekker & Puello (ouch); play ‘em and see what they can do.

Then Granderson signs for FOUR years and I was (still am) clueless. 
The ’14 season came & went with CY, EY and Grandy not accomplishing—offensively or defensively—near what I thought a Byrd-Legares-dD/Puello would minimally give (not realizing that Cesar would spend the year playing mahjong with the East German manly-girl track team).

Granderson rebounds in fine fashion in ’15.  Batting LO by default, in retrospect he was an essential cog in the Series-reaching effort and eclipsing the 2015 M.Byrd of my scenario by some 80 OPS points.  Of course, with the 2014 Byrd in hand, a big-bat search would probably not have snared a RHB Cuddyer either.  Obviously, all that doesn’t matter now.

All of this as set-up to my essential question:  Is now the time to shop Curtis Granderson?.  OK, two questions: why do I keep hearing 3rd hand that Cespedes WILL not (not cannot) play RF?

I think the answer to the first question is yes.   Granderson in RF, Cespedes in CF with Legares & de Aza on the bench is a sum less than it’s parts.  Game 1 last Oct should have opened with Legares in CF, Cespedes in LF and Conforto as DH (I can envision arrangements where Grandy was DH too, but the sub in question is Legares bat/field vs Johnson bat comes up on the side of the defense --offense too as it turned out.)  I think it’s a toss-up whether Granderson’s year will be closer to 2014 than 2015, but, for the sake of argument, think of those as the upper & lower bounds.

So. What could we get for Granderson this spring?  And, is the point moot if Cespedes refuses to play RF.

            Mack – Hobie, thanks for the question.

Yes, you always try and trade a ballplayer that is over 30 years old coming off his best year. You are never going to get more back than you would now.

That being said, the pre-season 2016 Mets are not going to trade one of their poster boys right before what lines up as a magical season in the making.

Yes, the current Mets have too many decent outfielders (wow, did I just say that) and four of the five of them aren’t right fielders. Granderson also is the closest thing the Mets have to a leadoff hitter which is another reason he won’t be moved.

In my opinion, it’s not worth doing the math. He’s not going anywhere.


New York Mets OF ’prospect’ Brandon Nimmo has been diagnosed with a partial tear of a tendon in his left foot and will be in a walking boot for the next 10-days, after which he was be reevaluated.

            Mack – Another Nimmo setback.

There are some people that just never get to where they were heading in this sport because they can’t stay healthy. Nimmo may turn out to be one of them.

He’s been around for five seasons now and has a lifetime minor league average of .264. He only hit above .300 once (2014: St. Lucie, 227-Abs), but finished that season only hitting .238 for Binghamton. And, in 1,542 major league at-bats, he only has 25 home runs and a slugging percentage of .391.


Luckily, with the signing of Yoenes Cespedes, the Mets have the outfield covered pretty well for the next two seasons. Sadly, Nimmo could be, long term, out of the picture and the Mets might move on to Wuilmer Becerra as their next ‘home grown’ outfielder.
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