2/20/17

Mack Ade - Travis d'Arnaud

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Good morning.


Boy, did I like it when this guy became a Met.

And I not only thought he was the blue chip in the deal that sent Cy Young pitcher R.A. Dickey to Toronto, but I though we wouldn’t have to look for another catcher for possibly 10 years.

The first problem is he always seems to be injured. He’s only had 974 at-bats in his four seasons in Queens, with only 239 in 2015 and 251 last year.

The second problem is his once projected power has never happened. There’s only 30 home runs in those 974 at bats, with a slugging percentage of .393.

Should we just give up on Travis d’Arnaud? He only turned 28 years old 10 days ago and doesn’t become eligible for free agency until 2020. His current 2017 A1 salary of $1.875mil is affordable for a lifetime 4-year .245-BA catcher. The problem is .245 would be just fine if your catcher had mad defensive skills, which d’Arnaud does not have.

Should we stay with guy until Tomas Nido matures, who has an ETA of 2019?

Reese Kaplan, of Mack’s Mets, added –

When the Mets acquired Travis d’Arnaud from the Blue Jays he was considered the crown jewel of the package they received for R.A. Dickey and Josh TholeWuilmer Becerra was coming off injury and just 18 years old.  Flamethrower Noah Syndergaard was a few years away and many felt a major injury waiting to happen.  John Buck was a salary dump by the Blue Jays who only needed him as a backup and now they had Thole coming to take over that role.

Unfortunately things did not progress for d’Arnaud as the Mets had hoped.  He’s one of those players in the mold of Moises Alou or Cliff Floyd who seemed forever to be plagued by injuries.  He’s never managed to put in a full season in the majors.  In less than half a season in 2015 he demonstrated what he’s capable of doing by providing 12 HRs and 49 RBIs while hitting .268.  Extrapolated over a full season and that’s over 25 HR/90 RBI production.

Unfortunately injuries struck once again in 2016 and limited his action to 251 ABs.  Given his production, that may be a good thing as he was plain awful.  He hit just .247/4/15 over MORE at-bats than he had had in 2015.
The question the Mets are pondering is which reality can they project going forward?  If you look at the minor league record, he average about .290/19/85 over every 500 ABs.  Consequently there is potential there.  You have to wonder to what extent the injuries were responsible for him overcompensating and changing his basic swing mechanics last year.
It is well known that the Mets tried to obtain Jonathon Lucroy from the Brewers during last year’s July trading deadline before he was eventually dealt to the Rangers.  That couldn’t have boded well for d’Arnaud’s confidence either.

Defensively, d’Arnaud reminds many of Mike Piazza in that he’s in the game primarily for what he can do with the bat.  He’s not particularly good at throwing out runners, though he allegedly excels at the sports-agent created metric called pitch framing.  Even so, the Mets pitchers fared much better when Rene Rivera was behind the plate so that even further calls into question the validity of what impact that skill has on the game.

The hope when they obtained d’Arnaud was that he would become the kind of offensive player Ted Simmons was during his long career.  Expectations have been tempered significantly and perhaps current Cubs backup catcher Miguel Montero is a better aspirational comp.  For each 162 game period he would deliver .259/18/78.  I think at this point the Mets would do cartwheels if Travis d’Arnaud would be healthy enough and consistent enough to provide that much with the bat.  Whether or not he can is still very much in the air.  A decent year along those lines would make people feel comfortable about that position until Tomas Nido is available.  Another bad year will likely have the Mets scrambling for a replacement to tide them over until that day arrives. 

Christopher Soto, of Mack's Mets, adds - 

Man…What could have been when it comes to d’Arnaud. In the past, I remained confident that d’Arnaud could always bounce back and reach his prospect peak because his old injuries were of the “non-lingering” category. Not anymore though as a rotator cuff injury that sidelined him for much of 2016 has pretty much sapped any remaining arm strength he had left. 

Quite frankly, I’m not so certain that d’Arnaud is even the starting catcher going into 2017. Despite posting a terrible .222 AVG, the Mets starting pitchers flourished with Rene Rivera behind the plate posting an ERA over 2 runs per 9 IP LOWER, as well as, a K/9 rate almost 1 K better per 9 innings than with d'Arnaud behind the plate. In fact, Mets pitchers even worked better with Plawecki behind the dish over d'Arnaud.



D'Arnaud will certainly get an opportunity to win his job back during spring training, however, as long as Rene Rivera is working well with Generation K 2.0.....I can't imagine Travis actually winning the job back.


Mack's Opinion: - A team can only have no many needs on one season. I’m sure the Mets would rethink both this position and the availability of someone like Matt Wieters, if they could have traded off Jay Bruce or accept the resignation of David Wright. I’m an old GM and one has the responsibility to operate with some sense of profitability.

My guess is that d’Arnaud will be the starting catcher for the Mets in 2017, but I can’t guarantee anything past this year. Also, if he goes down one more time he could lose his job permanently to his once understudy, Kevin Plawecki.



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2/19/17

Draft Update – Week 2-12

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2-16:

Vanderbilt (0-1) lost their opening game of the 2017 season to the University of San Diego, 3-2. Projected overall number one pick, OF Jeren Campbell, went 2-4 and scored two runs. Projected top five pick, SP Kyle Wright gave up three earned runs in five innings.

Cal State Fullerton (1-0) beat Stanford (1-0) in each team’s opening 2017 game. CSF starter, junior Connor Seabold, gave up five hits and zero runs over five innings, striking out five. Stanford starter, Kris Bubic, pitched a wonderful game in a loss, striking out 10 and giving up only two hits in six innings.

Boston College announced the suspension of RHP Thomas Lane. He’s been suspended for the 2017 campaign. Made 11 appearances last season.

2-17:

TAMU top prospect, RHP Turner Larkins, was held out of his first scheduled start for precautionary reasons. He had bone spurs removed from his elbow pre-Fall.
Clemson junior catcher, Chris Williams, has a hand injury that will keep him out of action for 4-6 weeks. Aaron Fitt/D1 Baseball: “He was their best player in the fall, major breakout candidate.”

#3 North Carolina RHSP JB Bukauskas sat 92-96 with FB in 1st. Bukauskas struck out 10, allowed three hits in 6 IP in the opener against a solid University of Kentucky lineup. UNC won 3-1.

1B Pavin Smith went 1-2 in #17 Virginia’s 10-2 win over Liberty.

Catcher KJ Harrison went 1-2 for #8 Oregon State (2-0) in their 6-3 win over Duke.

LHSP Brandon McKay struck out nine Alabama State batters in six innings as #12 
 Louisville shut out ASU, 7-0. SS Devin Harrison went 2-5 and scored a run.  

VCU upset #3 Florida State, 3-0. 3B Dylan Busby went 0-4.

#4 South Carolina beat University of North Carolina-Greensboro, 7-1. RHSP Clarke Schmidt’s Gamecock stat line was 6.2-IP, 3-H, 1-R, 3-K, 2-BB.

#2 Florida beat William and Mary, 5-4. Florida catcher, JJ Schwartz, went 1-3, 3-RBIs while SS Dalton Guthrie went 2-5, 1-run. Starter, RHSP Alex Faedo, gave up 4-R in 4.2-IP, while striking out seven.

#21 Miami beat Rutgers, 3-0. The U’s CF, Carl Chester, went 0-4.

#23 Rice beat Texas, 3-2. The Longhorn’s starter, RHP Morgan Cooper, gave up two runs in six innings, striking out six. Hit 95mph in the 4th inning. Rice’s 2B, Tristan Gray, was out for ‘academic reasons’. Rice’s standout RHP Glenn Otto, was grounded with shoulder discomfort.

#1 ranked TCU beat Penn State, 6-3. Catcher Evan Skoug went 0-4, scoring one run.

#19 Arizona beat Eastern Kentucky, 6-0. 1B JJ Matijevic went 1-4, 1-R

#6 North Carolina State beat Hawaii, 4-0. 3B Joe Dunard went 0-4, while OF Brock Deathrage went 1-4.

Auburn beat GW, 9-0. RHSP Keegan Thompson threw six scoreless innings afer 18 months off the bump.

Etowah HS OF Drew Waters hit a 2-run home run in the first inning against River Ridge HS.

Standout pitcher Hans Crouse of Dana Hills has made inquiry about transferring to Orange Lutheran, which would have him join forces with fellow projected top prospect OF Garrett Mitchell.

Archbishop McCarthy 

2-18:

Whiteville High School (NC) RHSP MacKenzie Gore threw 35 pitches, 23 strikes, 89-93 fastball with late life.  

#3 Florida State continues to win (12-3 victory vs. VC), but 3B Dylan Busby still looking for his first hit (0-5, 0-9 in two games)

#2 LSU beats Army, 9-0... RHSP Alex Lange goes five innings, giving up zero runs and four hits while striking out six. In the second game of the double header, LSU senior LHSP Jared Poche throws a 7-inning no hitter, blanking Army 6-0.

#4 South Carolina beat UNC Greensboro, 5-1... RHSP Wil Crowe stat line on Saturday: 5-IP, 0-R, 3-H, 1-BB, 7-K, 82-P

#1 ranked TCU beat Penn State, 12-1. Catcher Evan Skoug went 1-4 while scoring a run.

Unranked Notre Dame's RHSP Peter Soloman went 6.0-IP, 1-R, 6-H. 9-K. 3-BB, 88-P against Incarnate Word.

#6 NC State lost to Hawaii. NC State prospects: SS Joe Dunand: 0-2, RF Brock Deatherage: 1-4. 1-RBI.

#21 Miami beat Rutgers, 8-4. Longhorn outfielder Carl Chester went 1-3, with 2 runs scored.

#10 Louisville beat #22 Maryland. 10-7. Louisville SS Devin Harrison: 2-5, 1-R, 1-RBI. Maryland SS Kevin Smith went 0-5. Louisville pitching prospect, Kevin McKay, played first base and went 0-1, 1-R, 3-BB. Lousiville RHSP Kade McClure had a horrible first outing: 3.2-IP, 4-ER, 7-K, 3-BB.

#20 TAMU beat Bowling Green, 16-5. Aggies fireballer, Corbin Martin, continues to come out of the pen... and unsuccessfully... 2-IP, 2-ER, 4-K.














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Tom Brennan - TOP 25 METS' PROSPECTS: # 7 DESMOND LINDSAY

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Tom Brennan - TOP 25 METS' PROSPECTS: # 7 DESMOND LINDSAY
Desmond Lindsay has annoyed me so far - what about you, are you annoyed?  And why, you might ask, am I annoyed? 

For the same reason Lindsay has to be annoyed - injuries limited him to under 300 plate appearances in 72 games in half of 2015 and in 2016.  In other words he missed about half the games in those 2 short seasons. 

Annoying - why?  Because he has a high ceiling and you want guys like that to get their Cal Ripken on and not miss ANY games.

The talented 2015 OF is listed as baseball's 164th best prospect by minor league guru John Sickels - how much you want to bet he'd have been 50 slots higher had he not missed all those games?

Lindsay was drafted out of high school -  over that 72 game span of time, he has gone .284/.401/.419, including .297/.419/.450 in 32 games at his highest level in Brooklyn last year, impressive considering the poor hitting team surrounding him. 

The 6'0", 200 righty OF, who just turned 20 in mid-January 2017, has great tools, just needs to stay healthy and show us what he can do in 125 games in full season ball in 2017. 

Hopefully, he will be a faster, more powerful version of Brandon Nimmo and a starting OF for years to come starting around 2020.  

I could see Mr. Lindsay becoming a 20-25 homer, 80-90 ribbie, .280 - .300 type starting hitter type in the majors.   Maybe a 20 steal guy too if the legs stay healthy.

As of now, he seems (if he can stay healthy) like a great second round pick in 2015.  Here's to your health, Desmond.  Don't break a leg.

Funny story - I was in a local Tom Sawyer show a few years ago playing the schoolteacher.  Folks left and right saying, Break a Leg.   On the night of the last practice, on a darkened stage, a guy pushed a shin-high wooden platform dead on into both my shins.  I'll never be a star but I saw plenty of stars that night.  Blood too.  It was so hard an impact that if he had hit just one leg that hard, instead of both equally hard, I bet it would have broken my leg.  Morale of that story?  I'll never again tell anyone "Go break a leg".  

I will, however, tell someone, "go win rookie of the year."



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Mack – Five Possible 1st Round Picks

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Good morning.


It’s mid-February so it’s Mock Draft time and time to start looking ahead to the 2017 draft in June.

The Mets get a pick with the 20th player overall and I’ve gathered up five of the top mock drafts out there and what the experts of these sites are predicting will be the Mets first pick.

N2K had their first mock draft on December 18th and they named Orange Lutheran High School outfielder, Garrett Mitchell, as the Mets first pick.
They elaborated –

Garrett Mitchell, a UCLA commit is very well-rounded and has the potential to have MLB worthy tools on the base paths, in the batter’s box and in the field. Mitchell will be a perfect fit in a Mets system that doesn’t really need any pitching help (Syndergaard, Harvey, Wheeler, Matz, etc.) and Mitchell could be the perfect compliment to Michael Conforto in the outfield.

Perfect Game said -

Outstanding all around talent and athlete. High ceiling player 6.3 runner and 94 from OF at PG National. Showed big arm in game at PG All American Classic. Fun to watch him play

But Scout.com had a different spin on Mitchell -

On April 15, Garrett Mitchell endured his second straight 0-for-3 performance against Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco.The UCLA-committed 2017 Orange (Calif.) Lutheran outfielder saw his batting average drop below the Mendoza line to .197 for the season. “He's just a 17-year-old kid and the things that they all deal with at 17 years old plus the pressure of scouts and agents and people trying to talk to him,” Orange Lutheran head coach Eric Borba said. “Trying to stay focused and understanding what the important things are right in front of him, that's the biggest challenge for him.



My MLB Draft (January 30th) picked the University of Houston LHP Seth Romero.
Scout.com said this about Romero –

            Last season, only one pitching staff (Cal State Fullerton) had a lower ERA than the University of Houston, and no team had a better strikeout-to-walk ratio. It was all led by a sophomore who missed the first eight games with a team suspension. Though the discipline was for undisclosed conduct detrimental to the team, there has never been fear of Romero's makeup being a problem. The cougar mentality of being a silent killer fits the mold of the Cougars' ace.

Numbers are a very small part of the draft process, but when the skill set and numbers match up, it only glorifies the talent. In Romero's case, the numbers shoot off the page. Over his two years with the Cougars, Romero has boasted a 2.12 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 6.12 hits-per-nine, 2.53 walks-per-nine, 10.37 strikeouts-per-nine, and .193 opposing average. The numbers stem from high-quality performances, such as a pair of one-hitters, one of which came in a Regional contest as a freshman.

As for the skill set of tools, Romero flashes some of the best in the draft. Turning excess weight into muscle mass, the southpaw has a bulky frame at six-foot-three and 230 pounds. Working from a low arm slot, he gains strong sinking movement on his explosive fastball that sits 91-95. With it's premier velocity, sinking notion, and ability to command it to both sides of the plate in the lower part of the zone, Romero's fastball registers as one of the most elite in the draft. Romero backs up his fastball with a breaking ball that ranges in break and velocity, with a sharp and tight break. The varying speeds can change the break, and sometimes give it vertical break, and other times, horizontal, making it slurve-esque. Romero rarely goes to his changeup, but has shown a decent feel for the pitch and it could become an average or better offering with development.



Fueled By Sports (February 5th) picked American Heritage School SS-3B Mark Vientos.

N2KSports had Vientos going to the Nats with the 26th pick and said this about him –

            The third baseman and Miami Hurricane commit has a strong frame and offensive ceiling but his draft stock will depend on how he plays during 2017. Vientos will most likely top out as a late-first rounder but if he can strengthen his defense while hitting a few more long balls than anticipated then anything is possible.

Fueled By Sports said tis about Vientos –

            Height: 6’3″, Weight: 170 Bats: Right, Throws: Right, School: Charles W Flanagan (Pembroke Pines, FL), Position: SS, College Commitment: Miami (FL)

Vientos is one of the better high school prospects in the 2017 MLB Draft, with his five-tool potential and a projectable frame. He has a nice looking swing and has potential to hit for both average and power. He also has a plus potential glove with an already plus arm.

Strengths - Plus potential defense, Good frame, Versatile could stick at SS, with 3B also an option, Young will be 17 at the time of the draft, Above average power potential, Excellent arm strength, Above average contact potential, Line drive approach, Quick twitch athletic, Strong for a guy his size

Weaknesses - Needs to add bulk to his frame, Needs to improve his approach at the plate, Needs to improve pitch recognition

Scouting Grades – Contact 45/55, Power 50/60, Run, 50/55, Arm 60/65, Field 60/65, Overall          45/60
DRAFT PROJECTION - Top-10 Pick
PRO COMPARISON - Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles



C Lambert (February 8th) picked Dana Hillis HS (CA) RHP Hans Crouse.
Perfect Game said –

            Can run his fastball up to 97 mph! Very good and up to 96 at PG All American Classic. Fun to watch him pitch

Nats GM –
            Serving as the starting pitcher for Team National, Crouse immediately passes the eye test at 6-4 185lbs with significant projection remaining.  He was obviously struggling with the big stage early, needing 31 pitches to complete the 1st inning: fortunately Crouse rebounded in the 2nd, needing only 9 pitches to retire the side.

Crouse features an active delivery with plenty of extraneous movement, which likely hinders his command and control.  Over these two innings, Crouse flashed a 91-94mph fastball with excellent life and arm-side movement, which he located to both sides of the plate.  In addition Crouse showed a low-70s curveball with depth and impressive 12-6 action.  He only threw 1 curve in the 1st, instead relying on his fastball, but dropped a few hammers in the 2nd inning.  He did not throw a changeup in this outing, but reports have him possessing a credible cambio as well.

Committed to USC, it would be a bigger surprise than Omar’s death in The Wire if a major league team did not sign him away from college.


Robert Martinez (February 8th) picked Texas A&M RHP Turner Larkins.
Bleacher Report –

Fastball: 50/55 - Generates solid-average velocity (89-92 mph) at present, with the potential to add a tick or two more with added muscle; arm-side run when he throws it on the inner half of the plate, but he otherwise stays straight; tends to live up in the zone, which benefits hitters; needs to stay on top of pitch better to generate plane from 6'3" frame.

Curveball: 40/50 - Breaking ball will occasionally flash above-average with good spin and depth, but he doesn't show it enough to project as more than average; not a power curve, more of a slow change-of-pace offering in the 72-75 mph range; arm angle tends to hurt the curveball because he gets on the side of it upon release instead of over the top, leading to more of a slurve than a traditional curve.

Scout.com –

            Rob Childress has been responsible for 57 different arms drafted in his 18 years of coaching at the collegiate level. Not including top organizational prospects such as Corey Ray, Grayson Long, A.J. Minter and Mark Ecker, Childress has only seen two of his pitchers be labled as "first-rounders." The next product from Texas A&M is Turner Larkins, who has the opportunity to become the third pick under Childress to be selected in the first round of the amateur draft.

Already given the chance to play pro ball, Larkins made the obvious decision to be part of the Aggies rotation when the Brewers took a shot in the 28th round of the 2014 draft, one pick prior to former A&M football star and Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel. Scouts have been happy with the development he's shown in both the growth of his pitches and his growth between the ears. Larkins shut himself down for the summer circuit after eight innings in the Cape Cod League, which has raised suspicion on how much of a work load he can take.

Larkins has the look of a pro pitcher, with a big body at six-foot-three and just over 200 pounds. He works downhill with his fastball that sits 92-93 with sink and arm-side run, jumping upwards of the mid 90's. For a period of time, the fastball was only one of two weapons Larkins truly possessed. Flashing an average to above-average curveball, Larkins has been able to locate his high 70's breaking pitch with depth but needs to work on not exposing it out of the hand. Many didn't know how good his changeup would be, or become, until he started throwing it more often. Childress has helped him develop an above-average change with late tumble, that has turned into a potential plus pitch due to it's swing-and-miss notions.

The difference maker with Larkins is if he'll be able to continue developing his off-speed pitches and how consistently he can throw strikes. With a simple delivery, easy arm action and high release point, some scouts believe you can look past his walk rates and allow a professional coach to develop his abilities to throw more strikes and help his command. Most in the industry are excited to see what Larkins can do over the spring, and see him turn into more than just a potential "inning-eater" and into a high-end draft piece.


 



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2/18/17

Tom Brennan - TOP 25 METS' PROSPECTS: # 8 GAVIN CECCHINI

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Tom Brennan - TOP 25 METS' PROSPECTS: # 8 GAVIN CECCHINI


Gavin Cecchini - ahh, what to make of him.  Many are puzzled as to how successful a future big league career this former first round pick will have. 
 
(Painful Reminder: Cecchini was picked 12th overall in the 2013 draft, and it pains Mets fans to realize that one pick earlier was Addison Russell, and 4 picks past Gavin was Lucas Giolito, and 6 picks after Gavin was Corey Seager, who is now ranked the # 1 shortstop by MLB Network’s The Shredder.  Gavin did not pick himself, the Mets picked him, so he has to ignore that and work hard to move forward the best he can towards a decent big league career.
 
This is the year for him to make a big statement.
 
Cecchini was an awfully high error at shortstop in 2016 (though he was much better towards year end), and one can only hope a switch in 2017 to 2B will erase his fielding issues and let him concentrate more on becoming a more lethal hitter.
 
Getting back to positive stuff, Gavin has strutted out a very decent hitting tool the past 2 years in AA and AAA.  His power has been disappointing, but it improved in 2016.  He has hit .320 the past 2 years, with 53 doubles, 6 triples, and 15 homers in 885 at bats, with a .385 OB % and .445 slugging %. 
 
Only a K roughly every 10 plate appearances, a huge plus when considering potential hitting success in the bigs.  
 
He just turned 23 and I am expecting decent 2B fielding, a spike in homers, and perhaps a call up by June if the big club has injuries. 
 
My guess: average quality starting 2B starting in 2018, unless Phill Evans proves 2016 was no fluke, or TJ Rivera pushes them both aside. 
 
And of course, Wilmer Flores is shouting, "I'll play second, I'll play second, I won't cry, promise."











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Reese Kaplan -- Competition Within The Division

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It’s a given that the Division Champ Washington Nationals are the primary competitors for the National League East pennant this year as well.  They have starting pitching that’s on par (and healthier) than what the Mets have and an offense that was vastly superior (though that gap should close a bit if the Mets see a return to health for their many injured hitters).  Their manager sports a career managerial record nearly 200 games over .500, so that’s a big edge, too.  The Achille’s Heel would appear to be the bullpen, and as a result there’s every reason to believe the Mets should be able to contend right up until the end.

However, what about the rest of the division?  How have the Braves, Marlins and Phillies shaped their rosters and will they provide stiff competition or easy victories during the upcoming season?

Atlanta Braves

Believe it or not, in 2016 the Braves managed to finish below the Mets in runs scored.  Despite Freddy Freeman’s monster year, they finished dead last in the division but things seem to be looking up for 2017.  Newcomer Brandon Phillips may be a bit long in the tooth but an average year from him is Neil Walker-ish, a tad less power but a bit more baserunning speed and defense.  Youngster Dansby Swanson is a bit of a wildcard at shortstop, but his career in minors showed modest power and a .277 average to go along with double digit stolen bases.  31 year old Cuban rookie Adonis Garcia posted those kinds of numbers at the major league level already and could improve now that he’s had a taste of the type of pitching he’ll expect in the majors.  Matt Kemp had a monster year combined for San Diego and the Braves in 2016 with 35 HRs and over 100 RBIs.  Speedster Ender Inciarte with a career .292 AVG mans CF and former Oriole Nick Markakis pretty much takes up space in RF.  Catching is pretty weak with Tyler Flowers at the top of the depth chart and Anthony Recker in the mix.  The starting rotation is looking pretty impressive with Julio Teheran, Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia, R.A. Dickey and Mike Foltynewicz.  Jim Johnson is the closer and appears to be healthy.  After that the bullpen is a bit of a crap shoot, but it seems that the revamped infield and much bolstered starting rotation should propel the Braves out of the cellar. 

Miami Marlins

The Marlins, like the Mets, were ruined by injuries and now the untimely death of ace Jose Fernandez.  When Giancarlo Stanton is around, he’s as good as anyone in the league but his health has been precarious for quite some time now.  Flanking him is one of the better outfields in baseball with Christian Yelich providing both power and batting average and Marcell Ozuna moving his cannon of an arm to LF where he may challenge Yoenis Cespedes for a Gold Glove.  On the infield you have a potential 30 HR hitter in Justin Bour at 1B, speedster extraordinaire Dee Gordon at 2B, underwhelming Adeiny Hechevarria at SS and ever steady Martin Prado at 3B.  The Marlins feature a little known .300 hitting catcher in JT. Realmuto.  Overall the only offensive weak link is at SS.  Closer A.J. Ramos notched 40 saves in 2016 and turned in his second straight season of a sub 3.00 ERA.  They have a pretty good bullpen behind him to support the starters who will, unfortunately for them, need all the help they can get.  Right now the depth chart for the starting rotation isn’t pretty with  Edinson Volquez and Wei-Yin Chen both coming off the worst seasons of their careers.  26 year old Adam Conley has pitched significantly better in the majors than in the minors where his career ERA was over 5.00.  Tom Koehler pitched like a typical 4th starter and shouldn’t hurt the Marlins in that capacity once again.  Young journeyman Dan Strailey is penciled in for 5th starter duties.  Ugh.  If they should suffer any injuries on the offensive side they will likely find themselves fighting to stay out of the cellar. 

Philadelphia Phillies

At one time there was a Phillies team known as the Whiz Kids.  This year’s version is more likely to be known by the New Orleans Saint’s, “Who dat?” nickname.  The team is not exactly filled with household names.  In fact, outside of Howie Kendrick they may not be known much at all outside of the city of brotherly love.  At 1B you have a guy who walloped 21 HRs in just over 300 ABs in Tommy Joseph.  2B is going to Cesar Hernandez who quietly hit .294 with 19 SBs.  Shortstop is still manned by PED abuser Freddy Galvis who suspiciously went from a career high of 7 HRs in 2015 to slug 20 in 2016.  Perhaps he found a new drug.  At 3B you have young superstar in the making in Maikel Franco who hit 25 HRs, drove in 88 at age 24.  Catcher Cameron Rupp showed 20 HR power extrapolated over a full season.  Left field will feature former second baseman Howie Kendrick who doesn’t have much power but is a career .289 hitter despite a poor 2016.  Centerfield goes to Odubel Herrera who hit 15 HRs, batted .286 and stole 25 bases.  RF belongs to newcomer Michael Saunders who is coming off a 24 HR campaign as a part time player in 2016.  Starter Jeremy Hellickson turned in a credible year and should be number one.  Clay Buchholz is one of those enigmatic pitchers who seem to excel in alternate years.  Fortunately for the Phillies it’s the odd numbered years where he does well.  Jerad Eickhoff pitched similarly to Hellickson.  Aaron Nola posted some eye popping minor league numbers (career ERA of just 2.57) but it hasn’t translated in two brief trials in the majors.  Vince Velasquez also did pretty well in the minors but pitched to two seasons over 4.00 in the majors.  In the pen you have closer Jeanmar Gomez who locked down 37 saves despite an unsightly 4.85 ERA.  Behind him you have some good depth with veteran Joaquin Benoit and solid setup men Hector Neris and Pat Neshek.  They have a good balance of power around the lineup with weakness only in LF.  The starting pitching is mediocre but the bullpen is top notch.

Prediction for 2017 final standings:

Mets
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Marlins
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2/17/17

Casey Wentworth - Random Thoughts

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Have a quick couple of thoughts that I would like to run by you and your team of Met journalists there. See what you think?

To me, there are really just two major concerns that linger from the past two seasons of watching the Mets. First, the reoccurrence of injuries to basically the same players. And secondly, the reluctance I have in bringing back players who have been here three to four seasons already with the team expecting those players to improve their respective games in 2017 over what they have already clearly demonstrated to be their norm.

There are thoughts being bantered about on the web wondering if the catcher position here could quite possibly be upgraded somewhat more. Knowing that the catcher position in MLB is sort of at a collective low point, I was trying to think of alternative ways to accomplish this. I like Travis d'Arnaud but kind of am concerned about last season's overall injury and skill regression he demonstrated. If say, he were to go down injured once again, then would either Rene or Kevin be able to carry a starting role that could included again a long stretch of games?

So my idea here is this, why not trade Travis to a team where that club has a catcher that also may need a general change of scenery as well. Sometime athletes (and people in general) just simply need a new address to give themselves a viable chance to start over. With this in mind, I was thinking J.T. Realmuto on the Miami Marlins. J.T. is not slated to start at catcher there in Miami in 2017. His stats are decent though, he batted .303 BA with 48 RBI's in 2016 with Miami. His career batting average is solid over three seasons at .281 BA. He will not hurt a team behind the plate and has a really strong arm.

His scouting reports basically say that he is a solid catcher, has a plus arm, is now 25 years old, average speed for a catcher, is a big 6'1" plate target, but has only (so far) so-so power batting game to him. I like his swing mechanics and understand that he has developed a better eye at the plate over time and strikes out a whole lot less than he had been prior. What I like most here with J.T. are these things: He has developed a consistency both batting wise and catching behind the plate. From a consistent swing with solid batting mechanics, I do believe that power can then be added as J.T. continues to get solid game time in and ages. Whereas Travis has really been hurt by his so many injuries interfering with his own development progress. I have concern here that this may continue to be the case with him. There are no certainties with such things, that it will not going forward.

At present, Miami is looking for a first baseman and a decent enough catcher (like Travis) might just be enough to convince them to move Realmuto. I am wondering if Lucas and Travis might appeal there in Miami? Maybe the Mets could get back someone with Realmuto as well, maybe a MiLB player to help restock their own MiLB.

It's an interesting thought, perhaps.

I was also kind of disappointed that Gabriel Ynoa got sold because the NY Mets have watched a multitude of starting pitchers go down all basically at the same time in prior seasons. I realize that the Mets are always reluctant to go to the more obvious 6-man rotation for injury conservation type reasons. But right now already, Zach Wheeler is on hold, Matt Harvey is still unknown, Jacob deGrom "should be" alright, R. Gsellman "should be" able to bat again normally, and Stephen Matz "looks alright" right now. And the Las Vegas starting rotation is relatively unset, having deleted a few potential AAA 51' starters from their roster.

However too, I do believe that if the injury bug bastard doesn't bite too hard in 2017, these same NY Mets should see a wonderful season unfold around them that would make later on September be a lot of fun for all us fans!


So Let's Go Mets!
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Tom Brennan - TOP 25 METS' PROSPECTS: # 9 TJ RIVERA

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Tom Brennan - TOP 25 METS' PROSPECTS: # 9 TJ RIVERA

Hey, with me having PJ Conlon at # 11 and now TJ Rivera at # 9, I am seeing a pattern here, and I strongly recommend all Mets' prospects to add their first initial and a J...it seems to help underdogs rise to the top. 

For instance, Justin Dunn should call himself JJ Dunn, or JJ Dunn the Hired Gun - he'd get to the majors quicker with that tag.

The undrafted TJ is being cast for the lead role in the next Underdog flick.  Because he IS the Underdog. Many skeptics had he when starting 2016 - so what did he do? 

Won AAA batting title, with .352, got called up in September and started a lot down the stretch drive, hitting .333 in 105 at bats.  My recommendation is to add even more to his increased homer totals in 2017. 2016 in the majors and minors? 

Wow...34 doubles, 14 homers, and 101 RBIs and a .347 combined aver with only 71 Ks in almost 600 minor and major league plate appearances. 



And, of course, his total minor league stats impress:


2,648 plate appearances, 147 doubles, 35 homers, and (for an undrafted dude) a splendid .324 minor league career average.  And just 332 strikeouts 91 every 8 PA). 


Compare and contrast his nombres to the abysmal stats of so many Brooklyn DRAFTED hitters in 2016.   Being drafted helps, but only until the plate appearances begin, when the playing field of those who are drafted and undrafted is leveled.  Then, performance counts.  And TJ has performed.

Full Disclosure: TJ is not perfect - he does not walk much (partly, I'm sure, because he does not swing and miss much) and is basically an adequate but versatile defensive player.   Only 27 of 41 steals in the minors, telling me he is a not-swift, but intelligent runner.  Versatile defensively as in 265 games at 2B, 147 at 3B, 34 at 1B, 139 at SS, and 9 in the OF in his minor league career.

Add some more power and maybe, just maybe, he can be the next Justin Turner or Jeff Keppinger



Hopefully his days in the minors are over or almost over.

He can be a starter or valued, frequently used sub in the bigs. 



So ends this synopsis of the Underdog.


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Richard Herr - Highlights

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Highlights
I’ve got to talk about this, even though it barely touches on anything to do with the Mets.
From 10 am to 1 pm on WFAN, sports radio in New York, there’s a show hosted by Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. One day, about a year ago, they got together on a remote broadcast out of Connecticut with two guys who did a similar show in Boston. They had a mixed crowd of fans from both stations. They asked the fans from both sides to come up with the three greatest moments for their teams in the New York against Boston/New England rivalry.
The New York fans came up with the following;
1.     The Mets win in the ’86 World Series.
2.     The Bucky Dent home run against the Red Sox.
3.     The Giants winning over the previously undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.
These are all very important victories for the teams in special games.
The Boston/NE fans came up with the following:
1.     The Mo Lewis tackle of Drew Bledsoe that knocked him out of the starting quarterback job.
2.     The bench-clearing brawl between the Yankees and the Red Sox where Pedro knocked over Don Zimmer.
3.     Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble.
Now I’m sure there are a number of games that could be cited where the Red Sox defeated the Yankees, or the Patriots defeated either the Giants or the Jets, or the Celtics defeated the Knicks, but the New England fans chose those three.
Those three examples involved individual combat, injury, or humiliation.
I’ve got to wonder, in these times, are we losing it, both as sports fans and as individuals? Are we forgetting the sheer joy of watching the grace and beauty of the games we watch?
What are we thinking, and what does it say about all of us?


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


You can see his books at https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Herr/e/B00J5XBKX4.
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2/16/17

Richard Jones- Zack Wheeler, The 5TH Starter, and other Thoughts about the Mets rotation.

3 comments

Yesterday Dan Warthen mentioned that Zack Wheeler had some tenderness in his arm after a bullpen session. There's a large range of possibilities of what this means. The Mets sent a loud in clear message that their goal for the pitching staff is to leave spring trainging healthy. Could this be in Wheeler's head and he is just being overly cautious? Could it be the beginning of a bigger issue? Could it be something in between those two?

If Wheeler, for some reason, is unable to pitch come opening day, then the issue of what to do with him becomes irrelevant. So I want to focus on what I believe the Mets should do with him if he remains or gets healthy.

In Warthen's press conference he also stated that Wheeler's inning limit this year will be in the low hundreds. I take that to mean no more than 130. He also stated that as a starter he would likely be limited to 5 innings per start. That limits Wheeler to no more than 26 starts. I would want the option of having some of those starts in the payoffs. If the fab 4 starters are healthy on opening day and either Gsellman or Lugo look like there ready to build on last years success I would leave Wheeler in an extended spring training for the 1st four weeks of the season.

Besides not burning Wheeler's innings in the beginning of the season this would give the Mets the opportunity to see a little more of what they really have with Gsellman and Lugo. One of those might just take the 5th starting spot from Wheeler even if all goes well with Wheeler's health. In his 7 starts for the Mets last year Gsellman pitched better than any 7 game stretch Wheeler ever put together in his two years with the Mets before getting hurt. However Wheeler does have a lot of untapped potential that I'm not willing to give up on just yet.

If Wheeler is 100% ready to go after those 4 weeks I would work him into the rotation to rest the other starters. I would give him additional days to rest between starts. For instance his first start might be to rest Matz on a Friday. The next Friday he might take Harvey's turn. The following Friday  deGrom's. After going through the rotation once evaluate what we have and go from there.

One other take away from Warthen's press conference was his statement that the fab 4 looked the best he has ever seen them. A few weeks back I made some projections. They were probably the most optimistic projections out there. Seeing Syndergaard come in with less body fat but adding 17 pounds of muscle without losing any flexibility and similar but to a lesser extent with the other starters has me believing this this will out perform those projections if they stay healthy.

The Mets staff is extremely talented but there motiviation seems to be matching their talent. This could be a very special year for the Mets and their fans.
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