11/27/12

Mack Stuff – Tim Byrdak, Greg Burke, David Wright, Jordany Valdespin, Cory Vaughn

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Left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak will re-sign with the Mets on a minor league deal. This is a good thing. And, it’s a hell of a lot better than some of the guys the team has signed in the past few weeks. Byrdak was the left-handed workhorse for the Mets last year, pitching in 56 outings, and posting a 4.40-ERA and a respectful 1.17-WHIP. He had 34-Ks in 30.2-IP, but did walk 18 batters. He tore his anterior capsule and underwent successful surgery on September 6th. The Mets finished the season with both LHRPs Josh Edgin and Robert Carson in the pen, but it’s good to see that Byrdak could be back if needed. Good move.

Ballplayers approach the off-season in many different ways. Some play winter ball until they drop while others work on the deficiencies in their game. A perfect example of this would be RHRPP Greg Burke, who was signed recently by the Mets. Burke had gone 3-3, 4.14, 1.55, 48-G, 46-IP, 33-K, 23-BB in one major league season, but rallied last season with a 1.53-ERA through 44 games in AA/AAA. Well, the secret is out. He’s now throwing sidearm and is eating up the Mexican League (21.2-IP, 19-K, 1-BB). He will only be 30-years old next season which is young for a reliever and I expect the Mets to take a long look at him in spring training before probably starting him off in Vegas. Then again, the Queens pen could use a sidearmer to confuse the opponents early on.

Brian Costa - @BrianCostaWSJ - FWIW, I'm told Mets have yet to seriously explore trade options for Wright. They may need to eventually, but still hopeful for extension. – Costa has good contacts and I can see this being true. You don’t send out signs like this early on your star. No, all of the off-season will be spent trying to re-sign Wright, not trade him. As I have said in a past article, I think half of this responsibility is with Wright. Split the difference, dude, and come back to the team that has the fans that have supported you throughout the years. Trading options will be left to after spring training and could stretch out as far as the Carlos Beltran-Zack Wheeler deal took. Either way, the Mets will have a star in their lineup, maybe two.

It continues to look like OF-IF Jordany Valdespin is maturing into his game. We’ve talked a number of times about both how he approaches the game mentally and his lack of plate discipline (Baseball Cube gives him an ‘8’ for patience). He’s 24 now and it’s time to grow up. Last year, in Buffalo and Queens, he had a combined 20 walks in 342 at-bats.  This year, in winter ball, he has half of those (10 walks) through 16 games. Add to that a respectful stat line of: .277/.404/.426/.829, 3-HR, 10-RBI and the Mets might have solved one of their five question marks for the 2013 Mets outfield.

As in the case of Greg Burke, you work on the things you do badly in the off-season. OF Cory Vaughn is doing that in the winter league and there is no one in the system that understands how important it is for one of the Mets minor league outfielders to step up in 2013. Vaughn has all the inbred tools needed and has proven he can hit both for average (2010 – Brooklyn - .307) as well as power (2012 – St. Lucie – 28-HRs). He just hasn’t put it all together at the same time. In addition, cutting down on his strikeouts wouldn’t hurt either (114-K in 456-AB last season). We saw two major positive steps last season… the 28 home runs and the 65 walks. The combination is a sign of better things to come. More good news is the 30 at bats he has had in the Mexican Winter League (.333/.488/.533/1.021). Yes, there were 10-Ks but there also were 10-BB. Let’s not forget he was 2nd in the Florida League last year in home runs.

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