10/16/18

Mack… Position By Position Analysis: 1B

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Good morning.


Long term Mack’s Mets readers will remember that I do this every off-season. I breakdown who is left on this team going into the off season, prior to both the next International signing period and the draft pick. It al starts here and, as we will show you as we go through this, position by position, things are greatly improving in the lower levels. The Mets should become a dominant organization in pipeline talent in three years max, if they don’t screw it up.

The first position I will look at is first base. It will project where I believe players will open the season.

Here’s what we have and their stat line for 2019:

          Jay Bruce              Mets           .223/.310/.370/.680    9-HR

          Wilmer Flores       Mets           .267/.319/.417/.736   11-HR

          Dominic Smith      Mets           .224/.255/.420/.675    5-HR
                                          AAA            .258/.328/.380/708     6-HR

          Peter Alonso          AAA            .260/.330/.407/.737   21-HR
                                          AA              .314/.440/.573/1.012   15-HR

          Joey Terdoslovich  AA              .308/.368/.472/840    12-HR

          Jeremy Vasquez    A+               .264/.342/.393/.735     4-HR
                                          A                 .289/.383/.437/820      6-HR

          Chase Chambers   A                 - - - -

                                       Low-A          .281/.350/.392/741    3-HR

                                      Low-A          open

          Gavin Garay          K-Port          .329/.364/.586/949   5-HR (70-AB)

          Anderson Bohorquez   GCL        .250/.325/.357/683   0-HR

          Wilfred Astudillo   DSL             have not played yet


Here’s my spin…

1.    The Mets will not start 2019 with Peter Alonso on the parent roster. My guess, he will be held up until mid-April when the team can be accredited with one more year of control.

2.    I can’t predict if Alonso will be traded in the off-season. I would. I think he has his best value as a chip for a multi-tool prospect that plays another critical position.

3.    If he isn’t traded, he will most likely then become, at worse, a Mets first baseman that will split time with someone like Wilmer Flores. At this point, I have no idea who will play first in Syracuse after mid-April. Patrick Kivlehan chose free agency and signed with Arizona, leaving an opening here.

4.    Either way… Bruce… Smith… Wilmer… Alonso. This position is filled for, at least, 2020.

5.    30-yr. old Terdoslovich is a AAAA player at best, and will fill the slot left open by Patrick Kivlehan (free agent) in Syracuse. It create a fast track decision for Jeremy Vasquez. Could happen, but then you have no one on the roster for both St. Lucie and Brooklyn (Chase Chambers will play Columbia). Lots of options here.

6.    Look for the Mets to draft a new first baseman in the first 10 rounds and slot him into either St. Lucie or Brooklyn.

7.    Vasquez is considered as your only other potential prospect material at this position.

8.    The next big question is whether or not Gavin Garay is for real.  The 21-year old former 2017 26th round JC pick started out just fine at Kingsport (70 at-bats, .329) but then went down with blurred vision. I have him either going back to Tennessee for a third season or moving on to Brooklyn.

Conclusion:

          To me, the future of first base looks fine.

The odds-on favorite to be the future here is Alonso, but I’m not ready to give up on Dom yet. We know that he’s hands down a better defensive option. I hope he also realizes that he needs to come to camp ready for a heads-on battle against his good buddy Peter. There simply is no future for Smith in the outfield. This is a battle to the end and the end probably is around April 17th.

I also think there is a good chance that this battle will never happen. The Mets have an opportunity to build a trade package for Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto and the one-dimensional Alonso would be a great lead chip here (I suggested that Seth Lugo be part of this deal also).

Smith would not be enough for a Realmuto trade. You would have to throw in probably two other players, one as tested and talented as Seth Lugo.

The Mets must be careful here. There isn’t much left in the pipeline at this position.

It’s Alonso or Smith taking you deep into the next decade.

Rating:  A

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Tony Plate - The New York Mets GM Search

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As the New York Mets’ general manager search continues this off season they are finding out that it is not that easy. Jeff Wilpon said that nobody from within the organization will be considered for the position. The Mets received a phone call from Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa last week. He spoke to one of the Mets’ executives and recommended Gary LaRocque, the Cardinals’ director of player development for the position. Also, the Mets interviewed Chaim Bloom, the Tampa Bay Rays’ senior vice president of baseball operations this past week. He has been working for the Rays during the last fourteen years. Team owner Fred Wilpon’s preference, is a candidate more versed in scouting and player development. He will have the final say on the choice.
When the Mets make their choice the first order of business of the new general manager would be to sign Jacob deGrom to a long-term contract. Another task would be to make trades to upgrade at catcher and in the bullpen. Also, there is a chance that the team may look at the free agents that are available, however the Mets do not usually make a big splash in free agency like the New York Yankees do and stay a little conservative. The Mets would have to improve their hitting to be considered a serious World Series contender.
As for the Major League Baseball playoffs the Yankees were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in four games last week. The Yankees just simply did not pitch well. They did not have that dominant frontline ace type of pitcher they needed to get by Boston. Since 2016 they had a chance to obtain the likes of Chris Sale, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, but they did not capitalize to acquire them and what is worse is that they allowed both Boston and Houston to acquire them and both teams had the better record since the Yankees were challenging them for the division and homefield advantage etc. The Mets even made Jacob deGrom available this past May and the Yankees did not even make a serious attempt to trade for him. I’m sure the Yankees will be busy this off season, because they need to improve the starting rotation to be considered a serious World Series contender.
The off season of both the Mets and Yankees should be interesting. It would be more interesting if the two teams discuss business together by talking about a trade since they both have assets in which they would really be able to help each other.






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10/15/18

Reese Kaplan -- Yes, Virginia, We DO Have the Money

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Recently Mike Freire and Mack got into a debate about the necessity for the Mets to be aggressive in the off-season to build upon the core that emerged during this past wasted season (which followed another wasted season).  Whine all you want about injuries, but the Dodgers lost players to the DL 38 times to our 28 yet the last time I looked they were playing in the NL championship to get into the World Series.  It’s about what you do when you face adversity that is the difference.  They had lost Cory Seager all year and Justin Turner much of the year.  They went out and got Manny Machado.  The Mets went out and got Austin Jackson.  One of these things is not like the other. 

It occurred to me that if you analyzed the 2017/2018 off-season spending you would find that indeed the Mets had the resources to ink a Manny Machado or a Bryce Harper had they been smart instead of searching for bargains in the “irregulars” section of the store.  Let’s take a look.  I warn you, it’s pretty ugly.

Jason Vargas was signed to effectively a 2-year deal worth $16 million.  Technically it’s two with an option for a third or a $2 million buyout, but it meant the first year of his deal cost the club just $6 million.  For that he delivered -0.3 WAR.

Jay Bruce was in another first-year discount type of deal.  There are no options in play here, but the total magnitude is $39 million.  The first year cost was $11 million.  He delivered -0.4 WAR.

Anthony Swarzak similarly took a year one discount on his two-year deal.  He was paid $5.5 million for 2018 and will earn $8.5 million in 2019.  He delivered -0.4 WAR.

Jose Reyes was brought back for another year after his hot finish to a disastrous 2017 season.  At a cost of $2 million for a single year it didn’t necessarily look awful on paper.  It did look awful on the field as evidenced by the -1.0 WAR he provided.

Jerry Blevins was a net positive in the WAR column after a dreadful start to 2018.  He finished strongly and his one-year deal of $7 million dollars was worth 0.1 WAR.  However, if one WAR is worth $7.5 million or so, then maybe it was not such a good deal after all.

Exercising the option on Asdrubal Cabrera was a hotly debated topic during the past off-season but he delivered.  Midway through the year, of course, he was dealt to the Phillies and finished this $8.25 million contract by providing 0.7 WAR for the season.

The one true positive of the whole bunch was Todd Frazier.  In between stints on the DL he was able to give the Mets 1.4 WAR on an investment of $8 million in 2018 and $9 million to follow this coming year. 

In total the Mets’ off-season spending spree totaled $47.5 million for 2017 and provided a net gain of 0.6 WAR. 

Bryce Harper had, by his lofty standards, a sub-par year for the Nationals.  He was only worth 1.3 WAR.  He’s provided as much as 10.0 in a single season and averages about 3.8 WAR per season for his career. 

Manny Machado delivered to the Orioles and Dodgers combined 5.7 WAR.  He has averaged about 4.9 WAR per season over the course of his career.

So if you look at the $30 million per season one of these guys would cost and weigh it against the $47.5 million actually spent, the Mets can’t help but look less than shrewd.  Even if you filled out the remainder of the roster with warm bodies earning minimum wage who provided 0.0 WAR, those other 6 players would cost $3.6 million in aggregate.  Add that to the $30 million for the one superstar and you’d still be way ahead of the game.

However, to be fair, neither Machado nor Harper were available on the open market last season.  You couldn’t have obtained them even if you had the foresight and resources to do so. 

Do you want to know who WAS available and who were touted as good gets for the Mets?  Centerfielder Lorenzo Cain was available to the highest bidder (who turned out to be the NL champion-bound Milwaukee Brewers).  He provided 6.9 WAR for $14 million in his first year of a five-year $80 million contract.  J.D. Martinez was pricy at $23.5 million but provided the AL-champion contending Boston Red Sox with 6.4 WAR.  Mike Moustakas signed for $3 million less than Todd Frazier and he gave the Royals 2.5 WAR. 

Now I’m not raising these depressing points to ruin your day, but simply to point out that a smarter GM might be able to convince ownership that shopping in the bargain bin is not always the best course of action and that you can actually save money if you choose more judiciously. 

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10/14/18

From The Desk...

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Good morning.


Mark Vientos may need to find a new position –

The results of this move were not promising on the defensive side of things. Vientos committed 13 errors in 133 opportunities. He finished the year with a poor .902 fielding percentage, showing early on in his professional career that perhaps a position changed is needed.

Mack – Vientos is not a 5-tool player, but his impressive bat was reason enough to draft, and develop him. The worst scenario here should be an AL DH chip someday.





Baseball pioneer honored –

        
   The life of Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first African-American to play professional baseball, was remembered Sunday as the community gathered to dedicate a mural in his honor.

           He played baseball while at Oberlin College, then at the University of Michigan and ultimately for the American Association’s Toledo Blue Stockings (1883-1884). The team received threats due to Walker’s appearance as catcher and he soon had to leave the team. After Walker played his last game for Toledo, no other African-American would play in Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

Mack – Every time I turn on the news I think that we have turned the clock back on race relations. Then I find a story like this and realize we are still far ahead of how bad it was.


Arizona League Stats (thru 10/12)

         
   1B     Peter Alonso                       16-AB, .500/.556/.750/1.206, 1-HR

            CF      Desmond Lindsay              4-AB, .500/.500/2.000/2.500, 2-HR

            SS      Andres Gimenez                4-AB, .250/.500/1.000/1.500, 1-HR

            C        Ali Sanchez                          4-AB, .000/.333/.000/.333, 0-HR

            RP     Steven Nogosek                 1-IP, 0-K, 0.00, 0.00

            RP     Joe Zanghi                           2-IP, 1-K, 0.00, 1.00

            RP     Matt Blackham                  1.1-IP, 1-K, 6.75, 3.75

            RP     Gerson Bautista                 3-IP, 2-K, 3.00, 1.33


It’s getting close to my creating my mock drafts for 2019. The Mets have the 12th overall pick and it looks like that one of the serios bats will still be available when they pick. Niceville HS (FL) SS/3B/OF Rece Hinds looks like the second coming of Jarred Kelenick. PG has him graded as a 10, stating:

Rece Hinds is a 2019 SS/3B/OF with a 6-4 210 lb. frame from Niceville, FL who attends Niceville HS. Big and strong athletic build, long arms and room to get stronger. Third base tools defensively, has outstanding raw arm strength, good one spot lower half quickness and athleticism. Right handed hitter, elite level power with big raw bat speed and extension through contact, can get long and around the ball at times but can launch them to where others can't when everything comes together, has the ability to drive the right centerfield gap at times as well.
One more thing about Hinds… he spent the last few months traveling, and winning, every Home Run Derby he could enter.
This is serious power with excellent third base skills.



NFL certainly has its issues, but Major League Baseball   is the one that’s truly suffering –

It turns out we’ve been focusing on the wrong sport. The NFL certainly has its issues, but Major League Baseball is the one that’s truly suffering. Attendance is dropping, TV ratings are adequate but nowhere near the NFL’s, the games are too long and extend too late into the evening and kids aren’t growing up to be baseball fans as they were a generation or two ago.

Mack – As I mentioned in a comment last Thursday, the rising salaries will catch up to the declining team revenues and the perfect storm will develop during the next players/owners negotiation for a new contract. This sport could be in serious trouble.


OPENING THE DOOR ON THE PLIGHT OF PENSIONLESS MLB BALLPLAYERS –

For the past nine years, I have been attempting to get justice for retired, pensionless baseball players who clearly don’t appreciate the fact that they have been forsaken by both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the union representing current players, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA). Through no fault of their own, these men were victimized by a vesting rules change that occurred during the 1980 Memorial Day Weekend.
At the time, ballplayers such as the New York Mets’ George “The Stork” Theodore, Bobby Pfeil, Rod Gaspar, Hank Webb, and Dave Schneck, as well as the New York Yankees’ Rich Hinton and Ross Moschitto, needed to accrue four years of service credit; that was what anyone who played between 1947 – 1979 needed to be eligible for the pension plan.

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10/13/18

Bob Gregory - Roster Musings

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Hey Mack 

I hope you are enjoying your week.

I've been thinking about your focus on JT Realmuto and you have won me over.  I will join your quest to put him in Citi-Field.

I will differ on how to acquire him though.  Instead of using Alonzo as the trade chip, how about possibly...Rosario.  

Hear me out a moment before complete dismissal.

I'm looking at being able to move Rosario by having th ed Mets open the wallet and spend to get Machado.  After all he is going to be priced as a power hitting Shortstop, so if paying that price, might as well pencil him in at shortstop.

If the Mets seem Alonzo as more valuable as a trade asset, then maybe he could be used to acquire a true centerfielder. Or, he can stay and maybe prove himself.

Imagine

Nimmo leading off

McNeil batting second

Machado

4th, 5th, 6th, 7th being filled by Bruce, Conforto, Frazier, Alonzo (or new CF), & Flores.

The Mets get a youth movement too!

Realmuto (27), Machado (26), Nimmo (25), Conforto (25), Jeff McNeil (26), Alonzo (23)

And... your favorite future Met Jimenez is waiting in the wings as Frazier moves on.

Now this is a nice core for the next 5 years!
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Reese Kaplan -- The Mets Employment Questionnaire for GMs

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If you are evaluating potential candidates for a job opening, there are any number of ways to do so.  Many firms employ personality tests which reveal emotional tendencies, work ethic and employment behavior.  Some of them are kind of ridiculous because they ask questions to which the answers being sought are obvious, like, “Suppose you saw a co-worker with a bottle of alcohol in his desk drawer.  What would you do?”  Anyone with a functioning brain knows that they want you to say, “I’d contact the HR department or that employee’s supervisor since drinking at the workplace is unacceptable behavior.”

I got to thinking about what types of questions might Jeff Wilpon pose to prospective GM candidates who come into New York for job interviews: 




When going to business meetings representing the ballclub what accommodations should you book?

  1. A respectable hotel that will make a good impression on fellow baseball executives
  2. A hotel for which the club has a frequent-buyer arrangement to aggregate promotional points
  3. AirBNB and see who might rent out space on the sofa for you to sleep that night
  4. That's a trick question.  Use Hotwire.com to bid on a redeye coach flight back to avoid hotel costs altogether


In evaluating prospective ballplayers to bolster the roster, what are your primary concerns?

  1. Past performance is the best indicator of future expectations
  2. How well the person will fit into the existing clubhouse dynamic
  3. Advanced metrics to determine the player’s actual value including trend information
  4. See who has pecadilloes in his past that will suppress his current and future earnings


How should you approach the free agent marketplace to address identified needs?

  1. Understand that past performance is no guarantee of future results and don’t overpay for what happened 3-4 years ago
  2. Talk to everyone to get a holistic view of the marketplace as free agency only requires sacrificing money whereas trading sacrifices both player resources AND money
  3. Look for value priced free agents who don’t have flashy numbers but whose performance is trending upward
  4. Understand that good players are wanted by their ballclubs and anyone on the open market has already been spurned by his previous employer and should be avoided


What is your philosophy about enhancing minor league scouting and player acquisition?

  1. Prospects are just that with no proven track record and thus should be used as trade chips
  2. Developing younger ballplayers is far less expensive than acquiring experienced ones, so in the long run it makes sense to expand scouting and player development
  3. Identify undervalued assets on other ballclubs and be active in the Rule V draft
  4. If the ballplayers we draft are not knowledgeable about how the game is played and what they need to do to succeed, then cut them loose and try again with fresh bodies


How do you feel about the international marketplaces as a means of acquiring baseball talent?

  1. Lots of foreign ballplayers have failed, consequently it’s a risky proposition to invest offshore
  2. Many people in third world countries grow up in immense poverty and would be happy with whatever little we offer them
  3. The changing demographics of the baseball fan suggest you need to be open to acquiring and marketing ballplayers to fans of different cultures
  4. How are our fielders supposed to call someone off on a popup if they don’t speak the same language?


Suppose you have a direction you’d like to take and I disagree with you, what would you do?

  1. Acquiesce because you respect the chain of command
  2. Firmly and respectfully lay out your arguments for why we should support your ideas
  3. Kneel before me and kiss my finger where a World Series ring would be had we won one in the past 32 years
  4. Ask me to lower my trousers and turn around so you could kiss me somewhere else


I wish Mssrs. LaRocque, Watson, Bloom, Melvin and Ms. Ng luck in working their way through this employment personality profile questionnaire. Others have gone through worse and survived.  Think of it as a boot camp preparation for the job that follows this one.  





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10/12/18

Tom Brennan - SPORADIC THOUGHTS

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Tom Brennan - SPORADIC THOUGHTS

I last wrote a few weeks back that I would write sporadically, if at all, this off season.  A long LIRR train ride today got me thinking a bit, nothing profound, but here goes:

Jeff McNeil - one thing I love about looking up stats on baseballreference.com is they give you a 162 game projection. Jeff's terrific 63 game MLB rookie season debut projected out to this for 162 games:

638 PA, 579 AB, 90 R, 190 H, 28 2B, 15 3B, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 62 K, 18 of 21 SB, .329 AVG.

People I talk to about Jeff routinely throw in, "boy, he can really field, too."   Yep.

And people wonder if the second base position is not settled going into 2019?  Me? I sure think so.

Let me ask you this: would the Yankees have rather had Giancarlo Stanton in the line up for their recent failed BOSOX series, or Jeff McNeil?  "I choose door #2, Johnny."

Peter Alonso - the man who some want traded due to defensive deficiencies is a mere 5 for 8 with a HR and 4 RBI in his first 2 Arizona Fall League games.  
To me?  Our future bopping 1B, and darned soon, too. Amazingly, in 2018's regular season, his splits against lefty and righty pitchers were virtually identical. Don't believe me? Look it up, pal.

Andres Gimenez - where's the power, some say.  He homered (and walked) in his first AFL game, so that's where, friend.  He will be starting for the Mets in 2019, is how I see it, maybe on or around July 24.  Good date.  That date this season was when Jeff the Great McNeil debuted.  


Minor League Players Released - I am not sure if the Mets released more guys this year after the 2018 season than they usually do, but it was a lot.  
Me? Not surprised.  The teams in Columbia and St Lucie hit poorly, and most hitters released were only called hitters because they don't pitch, to be a bit blunt.  

The hitting for the Mets' 3 rookie teams was highly encouraging in 2018, though, vs. 2017, so my guess is the number of minors hitters released this time next year will be fewer.  "If they're good, I'm keepin' 'em, bro."

Some released minors pitchers had solid stats.  I did an article a few years back that showed the Mets releasing a large bunch of pitchers that year with collectively very solid stats. Why?
Presumably, the talent evaluators realized that those dudes lacked heat, and would hit fierce headwinds as they climbed any further. Darwin's theory apples to baseball, certainly...survival of the fittest. 

Considering that the guys released were not as good as the guys who pitched for the Mets in 2018, and that the 15 most "generous" bullpen guys in Queens combined for 227 innings and 184 runs allowed (7.30 runs per 9 innings), trust me:

The pitchers recently released would never be good enough to make the bigs.  

Oh, and 184 runs?  If you wanted to hold your opponents for the year to 4 runs per game (648), that 184 runs is 28% of that total - and that does not include the 10 relievers with ERAs below 5.00.  Fix the danged pen!

Message to Mets:
 
Darwin says draft power arms. That's his theory - mine, too.

Starters: with deGrom, Thor, Wheels, Matz, and Vargas/Lugo, do the Mets stand poised to enter 2019 with baseball's best starting rotation?  If not, whose rotation do you think is better? (I'm sticking with ours.  Of course, if this were the Yanks, they'd be looking to replace Vargas with Clayton Kershaw or some other such unknown.)


Whoops, my train just left Jamaica Station, just a few miles from Citifield.  The Manhattan Skyline (and loss of wireless service) looms ever larger.

So, it is time for Mr. Sporadic to sign off.  Until we sporadically meet again.
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