Mack Stuff – Carlos Vazquez, Wilmer Flores, Domingo Tapia, John Maine, Ryan Freel


Mack Stuff –  Carlos Vazquez, Wilmer Flores, Domingo Tapia, Ryan Freel

RP Carlos Vazsquez - Venados de Mazatlan – 2.1-IP, 0-H, 0-R, 5-K, 0-BB, 3.49
                Vasquez very quietly put up superb numbers in Savannah last season: 6-2, 2.96, 1.08, 41-G, 79.0-IP, 75-K, 26-BB. Vasquez will move on to St. Lucie with his Savannah buddies and, hopefully, continue to put up these kind of numbers. He was an international free agent sign in 2010 who will play next season as a 21-year old. He was a starter in 2011 for Brooklyn (15-G, 14-ST, 4-2, 3.61) but there simply wasn’t enough room for him on the very talented 2012 Savannah rotation.

3B Wilmer Flores - Bravos de Margarita – 1-3, 1-BB, .279
                Stat line for winter: .279/.343/.430/.774, 179-AB, 25-K, 15-BB… has cooled down a little this month. What he is doing is exclusively playing third base now, a position the Mets have obviously decided to showcase him at in 2013. There would be an obvious attempt to move him elsewhere if the team had plans on keeping him in the organization in the long run. No, this is 201302014 trade bait and the rarified air in Las Vegas will be perfect for his one dimensional game ( I wish somebody would print out defensive stats from winter ball, but they just don’t exist on paper).

In a piece for Fangraphs, South Atlantic League analyst Mark Newman discussed this very conundrum. He stated: "Domingo Tapia’s inability to throw a breaking pitch screams bullpen projection at the moment. This leaves Tapia in a tough spot as changing his arm slot may yield a decent breaking pitch, but take the bite out of his impressive sinker." And so we have our central conflict: Do you tweak the arm angle in an attempt to maximize his long-term value -- while at the same time potentially hurting the sinker? Or do you let him do what he does best, throwing mostly sinkers with the understanding that he could very likely end up as a reliever in the long run? It's a tough call. Which is why I don't really want to make it; I'll eat the cake I have, thank you very much. Call it a cop-out, but I'd be more apt to leave Tapia's delivery the way it is and have faith that he can develop a useable secondary pitch along the way. He could easily spend four more seasons in the minor leagues before getting 'too old'; that's more than enough time for me to hope on. AA

P John Maine signed with the Florida Marlins.

                I was in the Mets camp when John Maine reported to camp in 2010. He actually was supposed to report a few weeks earlier when pitchers and catchers reported, but he didn’t show up and the Mets never mentioned anything about it. He finally arrived and went out to the mounds hidden behind two of the back fields. The Mets use these for stealth practice with their pitchers and normally are off limited to press, but since this was officially the first day the whole team reported, reporters were allowed to view the pitching mounds.

                I purposely stood behind the fence that separated me and Mike Nickeas, who was assigned to catch Maine. This was the only practice mound that a reporter could actually position himself immediately behind a catcher and visualize a pitch.

                It became quite obvious very early that Maine was not going to be able to keep the ball within the zone unless he slowed it up. His top speed was only in the high 80s. and I remember Nickeas finishing up the session and walking halfway towards Maine (which is the normal routine) and meeting him halfway for a handshake. Mike came back to take position for the next pitcher he would catch and he looked at me and made a rolling of his eyes which spoke volumes and confirmed what I was thinking at the same time.

                Maine didn’t have it anymore. Sometimes, it just happened like this. It goes away overnight and you can’t command the strike zone without slowing down to the low-80s, which is murder at this level. 

Former Cincinnati Reds infielder Ryan Freel committed suicide on Saturday. He was 36 years old. In this world, everyone rushes to Facebook to see if someone that takes his own life had their own page. They leave comments to someone that no longer is around to read them, no less, close down their site and they shake their heads wondering how could somebody this blessed and gifted do something like this to themselves. So little time and expense is spent on mental health these days and there are so many other people like Freel out there just hanging on trying to come up with a reason to go through the motions for one more day. Friends of Freel said he was a fighter on the field and no one took the game more serious than he did. Trust me, that means that the loss of that stature cost him dearly when it was taken away from him.  Veterans hospitals are filled with people like Freel. You’ll find them sitting out front, smoking away, and staring off with what we used to call that ’10 mile look’. I’m going to get back to sports now, but look around you. There’s someone that needs your caring and understanding. Reach out and try what you can. Some cases like Freel’s are hopeless, but many find comfort in therapy and guidance, especially from friends and family members during the holiday season.  


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