Mack's Morning Report - 12-18-13 - Sources, Leather, Dom Smith, Batting Prospects

Tad asked -   Hey Mack, I saw that 18-year old that was breaking trades during the winter meetings. How do you guys get this kind of information?

            Mack – Thanks for the question, Ted.

            The simple answer is someone tells you something that they haven’t told anyone else yet and you are given a certain amount of time to ‘break’ the information in the media.

In the old days, this took a newspaper column or a live appearance on a radio or television station. Now, with the Internet in general, and Twitter, in particular, the information can go out instantly.

None of us that have done this either full or part time ever give up our sources, even if we retire and go away. You honor the person that shared that information with you to your grave.

Because of age and ill health, I no longer ‘follow the trail’. I really only did this after I left the broadcast industry in 2001 and took up Mets blogging in 2005. I walked into the offices of the Morris Communications, that’s owned the Savannah Morning News and suburban newspapers in Bluffton, Hardeeville, and Ridgeland, South Carolina and walked out the ‘beat reporter’ for the last three newspapers I just mentioned. My job was to cover local sports in Jasper County, South Carolina (one full page a week) plus cover the Savannah Sand Gnats (another full page per week). I was paid $75 per page, or $150 per week and all expenses were on me, including the 68 mile round trip to Savannah every day.

I had a laptop at the time and was given access to the press box which had an online connection (before Wifi) so I would go to the stadium early for batting practice and write my Mack’s Mets stuff there. Manager Tim Teufel granted me clubhouse access which I tried not to abuse. I would stand over in the corner and practiced the same ‘rules’ I learned in St. Lucie during spring training… leave the players alone unless they turn their stools facing in the direction away from their locker and sit facing you. That ‘unofficially’ means you can approach them.

Securing source contacts is nothing more than good old fashioned networking. You meet the person, you share a business card, and you try and get to know them a little on that first contact. I quickly came to realize that the 4-5 hours before game time was a great time to seek out various people associated with the players of the game. Scouts would come early to watch both batting and pitching practice… family in town would show up to take pictures… agents would accompany the parents of one of their clients… and roving coaches would hang around the dugout. Not all were talkative or friendly, but most became friendlier as time went on and no one told them you had written something with their name in it.

For some reason, people who know things want to share that information with members of the press, You would think they would run in the opposite direction when we walked in the room. I practiced one simple rule… I downplayed whatever I was writing about 95% of the time. I didn’t say ‘a source has told me’ or use words like ’exclusive’. I would just say something like ‘don’t be surprised if you don’t see so-and-so wind up on the disabled list after sliding into second last night and tightening up in the dugout’. No one is going to run around saying Mack had the exclusive on that, but, over time, they will learn that what comes out of your pen tends to be correct.

I had one major screw up. I was told that the replacement for Omar Minaya was going to be a trio of Vice Presidents and I had one of the names wrong. If I kept the report as a troika of Veeps, it would have been an exclusive.

My big correct exclusive was coming out with the story that Oliver Perez was going to resign with the Mets. I had the story a day ahead of everyone else and got a hat tip from Matt Cerrone to Adam Rubin.

My last was the exclusive that pitcher Michael Fulmer was on a plane to New York for surgery. He lands and his phone went nuts. Again, Rubin and most of the Mets blogging world thought that was a big scoop.

I remember the first time Teufel and I sat down for a Q and A. Around the sixth or seventh question was being answered by Teufel when he interested himself and told me that one of his Savannah Sand Gnats had just been tested positive for PEDs but he asked me not to report on that. I did find the information tempting, but I did not include it in the final full page story and I left a copy of it on Teufel’s desk. I ran into him early the next day and he told me he enjoyed the column and thanked me for my passing on printing that information. To this day I think that was the reason I was granted internal access to the team. Access, by the way, I never had again and he departed at the end of the 2007 season.

There’s no iron rule on the ‘two source’ thing. The important thing is the quality of the person who is telling this information to you. Trust me, if Sandy Alderson told me something I could use without including his name, I wouldn’t waste any time trying to find someone else to confirm what Alderson just told me.

Frankly, I don’t fully understand the importance of being the first at reporting something. My goal was always to first be accurate.

Lastly, I did go to Twitter today and I saw a considerable amount of ‘source’ posts from that young 18-year old. He seems to be having a lot of fun with this and he’s also being encouraged by people like Matt Cerrone to pass on journalism school and just stay on the unorganized path he’s on now. I would hope he would reconsider that and try to also develop a writing skill that can get him a legitimate job in the sports world.

He’s welcomed to write a column here on Mack’s Mets. I’ll pay him the same I pay everyone else

Fangraphs -

Jack Leathersich misses a lot of bats. If he can do a better job not missing the strike zone, he could have a bright future in the New York Mets bullpen. The 23-year-old lefthander has an eye-popping 15.2 K/9 in 143 professional innings. He also has averaged five walks for every nine innings pitched.

A fifth-round pick in 2011 out of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Leathersich split last season between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. He dominated Eastern League hitters, but his command issues flared up after his promotion. His numbers in Sin City included 47 strikeouts in 29 innings, but also 29 walks.

Leathersich talked about the need to fine-tune his command — and his strikeout-inducing arsenal — earlier this month. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/qa-jack-leathersich-new-york-mets-pitching-prospect/

Mack – A very interesting Q and A with Leathersich, who points out what he has to do to get his BB/9 in check while keeping his K/9 high. He’ll get a shot at Queens after the all-star game… if… he can accomplish his goals at the AAA level (good luck with that). 

Mark Hulet -

The Year in Review: Drafted 11th overall out of high school in 2013, Dominic Smith entered pro ball and was rarely fazed. He produced a .384 on-base percentage while displaying flashes of his power potential. He also impressed with his defensive work. After 48 games in the Gulf Coast League, he earned a late promotion to the advanced-rookie Appalachian League where he appeared in three games. 

The Scouting Report: Dominic Smith was even more advanced at the plate than expected. He should hit for average and power while also getting on-base at a healthy clip. His power is generated by quick bat speed and he doesn’t have to pull the ball to hit it out of the park. Like many young hitters, he has work to do against same-handed pitchers. At first base, he could develop into on of the best fielder in the game at his position thanks to his athleticism around the bag and soft hands.

The Year Ahead: Smith is advanced and mature enough to handle a jump to full-season ball in his first full pro season. He could move fairly quickly for such a young player and could reach the Majors in late 2016.

The Career Outlook: Smith has a chance to be an impact player both as a middle-of-the-order hitter and as a defensive whiz at first base. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2014-top-10-prospects-new-york-mets/

            Mack – The underlined red portion is the important statement. If this is true, there is no reason to be worrying about signing long term any of your internal first base candidates. There also is no reason to sign anyone from the outside for more than three years.

Below are the current 2014 projections for select Mets batting prospects. All projections have been prorated to 550 plate appearances (and 450 for catchers) for sake of uniformity. Defensive figures (denoted by Def) account both for positional adjustment and UZR, and are presented relative to league average. Note that, in many cases, defensive value has been calculated entirely by positional adjustment based on the relevant player’s minor-league defensive starts in 2013. Prospects are listed in order of projected WAR. The symbol # denotes the relevant prospect’s ranking on Hulet’s list. Figures might diverge slightly (although not signficantly) from those which appear on player pages. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/steamer-projects-new-york-mets-prospects/ 
2Travis d’Arnaud25C4508.3%18.8%.2891080482.9
10Wilmer Flores223B5504.8%14.2%.281920-521.6
6Kevin Plawecki23C4505.1%12.6%.247680-1680.7
11Dilson Herrera202B5504.7%22.9%.250470-332-1.3
14Brandon Nimmo21CF5507.2%28.3%.261460-342-1.4
9Gavin Cecchini20SS5503.5%16.4%.219240-476-2.4
4Amed Rosario18SS5502.9%18.4%.208190-506-2.8


Anonymous said...

I think what everyone is failing to realize is that Mr. Cotillo is not a "newbie" in this business. He's had a few years of experience working for a radio station in his home town, working on SBNation.com website, and has been on Twitter following MLB transactions.

Just like with any MLB prospect there is a development curve and for Mr. Cotillo he is like a prized prospect who's putting up big numbers in AA.

I hope he makes the right choice and goes to journalism school while still pursuing what he does now.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting on the journalist inside view...and wish you good health, Mack

Anonymous said...

As for Dominic Smith, The rave reviews he is receiving are excellent news. If BA believes he could begin the year in Savannah then that changes the whole game in terms of development timeline.

I originally had him pegged for Brooklyn with about 2 weeks or so of Savannah towards the end of the year however if he starts the year with Savannah and performs well, a trip to St. Lucie halfway through the year is not out of the question.

Very excited, def a possibility of moving out our Top 25 rankings VERY quickly.

Unknown said...

Answering questions from yesterday's Tanaka subject

I know what they say their budget is, but I won't let down on them like so many people seem to be doing now that they got Colon. They are at their so called budget of $85 mil, but before free agency we were all yelling it should be much higher. Why has all this talk stopped? Are we just giving in and accepting this? Cause I for one am not. Just because they have messed up their investments, doesn't mean we should have to pay for it.
If they started charging a lot less for tickets so it would be comparable to what their budget is, then I wouldn't mind the $85 mill budget. But that isn't the situation they charge top dollar to us fans for tickets, SNY, and other services. So I want my money's worth.


I feel they should attempt to go after at least some of these international free agents, everyone else does ( even the A's). I know for every Cespedes there is a Kaz Matsui, so it's not a given that they are gonna be good. Everything I have read seems like Tanaka is the real deal, and I am very interested in him joining our rotation. I understand pitching is our strength but he would make it that much stronger. With him in the rotation we would have even more pitchers that we would be able to trade starting mid season this year. Also even at $100 million spent for tanaka for let's say six years would be a very fair deal with all the international attention and $$$$ coming their way to help pay off that amount.
This general manager hasn't even bid on one international free agent since he got here that I can recall. Just like they wouldn't go over slot in the draft back in the day, that put us behind the 8 ball. So not investing on these free agents hinders our progress compared to other organizations.
Take my word for it, if in four years our owners don't go in a different direction of thinking they will really turn into the devil rays of the north. They will trade Harvey a year before he becomes a free agent, cause he is a Boras client.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Sandy's involvement in the international market....You make a false statement.

Sandy's international signings to date include:

OF Vicente Lupo
SS Amed Rosario
- Both highly regarded.
C Ali Sanchez
- "intelligent, high energy (Baseball America)
RHP Luis Silva
SS Yeffry de Aza
SS Miguel Patino
2B Franklin Correa
CF Ricardo Cespedes
- "good, loose swing and a nice gap-to-gap approach with the speed" (Baseball America)

He's spent $4.5M in signing bonuses to date. So just because he's not going after 2 guys who would just add to our positional roster clutter (Abreu- 1B and Tanaka- SP) doesn't mean he's not active.

Mack Ade said...


Chris is right... Sandy is actually building a decent team... it's just not being done at the speed of your liking.

The Mets operated like the LAD and Texas under Omar and what good did that do them.


I believe the 2014 budget should have been in the $130-140mil range, but I'm not going to waste any time ranting that it's not.

Being a Mets fan is a very frustrating thing these days.

Dan said...

I get seriously confused when people say things like "I want my moneys worth." The Mets franchise is bleeding cash. Aka the revenue from the fans (you and me) is not enough to cover the cost of running the team. So you are getting more than your moneys worth. Obviously I would love the payroll to be higher too, but to expect the Wilpons to lose tens of millions of dollars every year on the Mets and just be ok with it isn't realistic.

Anonymous said...

Zozo = irrational and angry

Lighten up, dude! This drivel comes through in every one of your comments.

We get it! You are unhappy about the payroll and are threatening to stop contributing to the team in the form of tickets and such.

That is cool and your choice, but do you have to be so "in your face" about it? Not to mention, none of us here on the site are the reason this is taking place and none of us here can change what Sandy is given as a budget.

Lastly, go to ESPN and review a recent "Grantland" piece on the Yankees precipitous drop from grace. It is classic and should be mandatory reading for all fans (including those who advocate free spending to become contenders).

Once you are done, report back!

Mack Ade said...

John -

As much as it hurts, Dan is right.

Unknown said...

First and foremost I apologize to everyone who thinks I am getting in their face. I feel like I am just stating my opinion, but sorry again.

U are right they did sign those players but I should have mentioned besides the youngsters coming after the international signing period. So besides the 16 and 17 year olds they have not pursued 1 since he took over. Is that smart to completely forget that portion of getting new players? Cause how would a Cespedes look in this lineup (instead of chris young) at 8 mil a year? I know I would prefer it.


You say that they are not bleeding cash? Well I feel that they really aren't telling us the whole truth about the Mets and SNY's finances. I truly feel SNY Is not paying to the Mets the appropriate amount of local cable revenue that they deserve. I believe when Cablevision owned the broadcasting rights to the Mets that they were paying close to 40-50 mil a season. And that's just for local tv, then add in the national. The national last year was about $25 and going up to $50 mil this year. Then dont forget 2 million tickets sold, parking, concession stands, stadium naming rights, merchandise and the big allstar weekend to name a few. Also they don't say that SNY is losing money?
It just doesn't add up, sorry for ranting... I feel if we don't keep consistently speaking out against something that we don't think is fair, then it just get pushed under the rug.

Anonymous said...


No that good actually.

Cespedes hit .240 with a .294 OBP and 26 HRs last season with Good Defense in LF but poor defense in CF combining for a UZR/150 of +9.9. He contributed 2.3 Wins

Oliver 2014 projections have Chris Young averaging lower (.222) but having a higher OBP (.310) with 19 HR and thats with a slight below average BABIP. You add in his positive defensive value of +18.7 and you end up with 2.9 Wins above replacement.

Give or take some stats you essentially have the same player. Cespedes as an individual player does not fit the mold of the team with his atrociously low OBP.

Anonymous said...

and no apologies needed.....I for one appreciate the commenting you do here. For every optimist fan there has to be a cynical fan. And for every 5 of each there a realistic fan lol

Mack Ade said...

Zozo -

You have nothing to apologize for. You're just being a frustrated Mets fan and voicing it here.

I have not stood up for Sandy all the time, but, in this case, he has to work with the budget given him. Yes, $25mil came off the books from the Johan contract, but they also signed up David Wright.

I still have never heard anyone on the Mets give a definitive budget... bloggers and beat writers place it somewhere around $85mil.

THAT is what's wrong with this team, but it is reflective with the profit and loss statement of the team vs. the conditions of the monies borrowed from the banks for the stadium and union contracts.

Business is business and though the Mets are worth a ton on paper, it would only translate to cash if the Wilpons sold the team.

That doesn't seem like it is going to happen and it also doesn't seem like the Commish is going to step in and force his best buddy to get out of the baseball business.

No, these are the cards we have been dealt with and each year will get better with a maturing rotation coming out of the system.

My guess is 2015 will begin an era where the Mets will have one of the top three rotation staffs in baseball. That alone is going to get them to the playoffs.

Sandy has done a good job with the draft, trades for youngers, and international kids. All this has happened in the past three years but all these players will play at the A+ level and below in 2014.

It's getting better... and yes, it would be much better quicker if the budget was higher... but it just isn't John.