Mack’s Friday Morning Weekly Mets Recap – 2-27 – Harvey Day, Blocking Nimmo, Chris Mitchell Prospects, Playoffs, dD vs. Kirk


Good morning.

We’re getting closer to opening day and no one seems to agree when Matt Harvey’s first game will be. First they said it would be the home opener on April 13th, but then Terry Collins said on Saturday that Harvey would pitch in the first five games of the season.

Either way, there’s a tremendous amount of concern in camp whether or not the old Harvey returns to the mound now that he’s put surgery aside. Sandy Alderson says that it’s ‘not out of the question’ for Harvey to achieve 200 innings, ‘including the playoffs’. Let’s go back and remember that the last time he did pitch for the Mets, two things stood out. One, he averaged 6.85 innings per outing and two, it seemed like the Mets never supported him with a single run during most of those outings. If Harvey starts late in April, that would mean a probable four starts in April and a max of 27-28/190 innings.

I wonder if the lack of support added to Harvey’s headstrong attitude regarding how he approaches the game had anything to do with his injury. Did he ‘over pitch’ because his team couldn’t manufacture him a lead?

The 2015 Mets rotation will have much more talent than the 2013 version, but that means nothing to Harvey. He’s a one man head case either on his way to the Hall Of Fame or a hospital ward named in his honor.

I believe the Mets will have much success from their rotation this season, but not here. My guess is a .500 season, countless uncomfortable moments and quotes  with both coaches and the press, and even a possible repeat of his arm problems.

Harvey will not throw a ball below 100%. He just won’t do it and everyone could suffer here because of it.

There’s a story out of Binghamton that Mets outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo may start the 2015 season back with the B-Mets due to the fact that the Mets outfields, as Sandy Alderson said, are ‘backed up’. He also said this was the same thing that happened last year to catcher Juan Centeno.

We talked about ‘blocking’ a few weeks ago and I said that I didn’t see a single situation where a Mets prospect was being blocked. Now, it seems this could happen to Nimmo and did happen to Centeno (though I never considered Centeno a prospect).

I have no problem with Nimmo beginning the season in Upstate New York. He's used to snow. In fact, that’s where I have him projected, but I do have a problem if he gets clogged down behind a bunch of non-prospect wanabees that are going nowhere. The current Mets outfield is built around Juan Lagares in centerfield, who I see someday playing in an all-star game. The other two positions are dominated by the contracts that stand behind the players; however, I see an opening in 2016 for Nimmo if the Mets don’t slow track him.  

The best I can predict for Michael Cuddyer is a disappointing 2015, a probably return to the DL at least once during the season, and a platoon at first base in 2016 (frankly, there’s plenty of material here for an entire separate post).

Nimmo could start the year for the B-Mets, end the minor league season in Las Vegas, spend September with the Mets in Queens, and open up the 2016 season as one of your starting corner outfielders.

And before anyone writes back because their nose got out of joint with my definition of excess outfielders at the AAA level, this is how the game works folks. You draft a bunch of players, sign a bunch more internationally, and no matter how long or well they play the game, it comes down to three starters and two substitutes on the parent team. Most very decent baseball players never get above the AAA level. 

Even more depressing is most of them never get the chance to hit against both right handed and left handed pitchers. They are brought up through the system as platoon players and don't stand a chance of being an every day player in the majors.

Occasionally a Lagares comes along and surprises all of us, but most of the time we can figure out who is going to make it and who isn’t. Right now, the Mets system has a lot of ‘who isn’ts’ and they sadly need to step aside.

This is the time of the year that everybody comes out with their prospect list. Thomas Brennan and I took a stab at ours last month and Chris Soto is posting the official Mack’s Mets list as I write.

Chris Mitchell over at Fangraphs may have outdone us all.

He lists the current top 200 prospects, in order, and, for the Mets they would be: #6 RHSP Noah Syndergaard, #12 2B Dilson Herrera, #55, RHP Marcos Molina, #56, RHP Rafael Montero, #102, OF Brandon Nimmo, #123 RP Akeel Morris, #126 IF Thomas Brennon  Matt Reynolds, #130 OF Ivan Wilson, #153 C Kevin Plawecki, #158 P Matthew Bowman, #159 SS Amed Rosario, #182 P (he is a pitcher, right?) Emmanuel Zabala, #188 OF Cesar Puello, and #190 SS Wilfredo Tovar.  

I mean, 14 Mets prospects and no Steven Matz

Mitchell spends a considerable amount of time trying to defend his ‘KATOH’ system of picking prospects and dissing the likes of players like CWS SS Tim Anderson and Houston RHP Mark Appel. I’ve got my own problems with picks like Zabala over Matz.

I always tell this to anyone who asks me advice on how to develop a prospect list. Do not make this a popularity contest by flaunting one player for what he has produced in one year of his career or predict him to double or triple what he has done in the past in the next year. Now you’re just being an untrained fan and your whole list loses validity 

I loved the amount of Mets on Mitchell’s list but I wouldn’t give his next list a second glance.

 I do want to stop here and say one thing in case my Harvey ‘gloom and doom’ assessment makes you feel that I feel that the Mets will not make the playoffs this season. That’s wrong. I think they will win enough games to qualify for one of the wild card teams and, then, they’ll turn it over to the hot pitcher at that time of the year (with the right amount of rest) and we’ll all cross our fingers.


I don’t think this will be a season where any particular players are going to max out, stat wise. It’s just not that kind of lineup. My guess is Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy will give us the same kind of season they did in 2014, and Juan Lagares might increase his batting average into the .290 range. Past that, I do look for excellent seasons from David Wright (for his age… 25-HRs, .275-.280) and the POY will be Travis d’Arnaud. My guess is at least five d’Arnaud clutch home runs will either create the lead that the team wins by or is a genuine walk off. I think d’Arnaud is going to be a perennial all-star. I really do.

Past that, I don’t expect positive results from either corner outfielder or anyone that plays shortstop.


What the Mets are going to do this season is teach itself how to win ballgames. They will stop throwing of kicking away a lead and they will follow where their pitching staff takes them. The pitchers will create the routine fly balls and soft grounders needed to stay out of the error column.

I've told you a number of times that I played third base. I never made an error on a routine ground ball. It was always the ones that were hit sharply, especially the ones right at me. Bad pitching creates those kind of hit balls and the Mets have very little of that these days. It will be the pitchers that reduce the errors in the field, not the players making the plays.

You’re going to see a lot of 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 ballgames here. Timely hits and decent (lucky?) defense is going to determine what side of the final score the Mets are on.

dD vs. Kirk – I was reading something that Reese Kaplan wrote about Matt den Dekker and I realized that I never seem to talk about this guy. I think what happens to me is that the Mets turn most of their outfielders into platoon players and I just never have the respect for them anymore to become full time major league players. 

The perfect case would be both den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

Neither one of them have anything more to prove in the minor leagues, but the only major league at-bats they have received have been against right handed pitching.

Whether you like it or not, the starting Mets outfield is Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, and Michael Cuddyer. This leaves two substitute slots, one for someone that hits from the right side of the plate and the other from the left.

Den Dekker and Nieuwenhuis are both lefties and, in 2014, hit .255 (den Dekker, 137-Abs) and .262 (Nieuwenhuis, 103-Abs) against righties.

Here’s the problem. These are their platoon numbers and they don’t say .355 and .362. This is the best they have done against the kind of pitching they should be eating up. 

It’s just not there.

For me, the difference is the three home runs that Kirk had (dD had none!) and his .855 OPS. They both offer excellent defense and, frankly, I also give Kirk the push here, arm wise.

My hope is to see a lot of one of these guys in the eighth and ninth inning of every game the Mets are leading. I really don’t care if either one of them get a hit… I care that they prevent one.


Brian Joura said...

You can't write about den Dekker without mentioning the big change in approach that happened during the 2014 season. After being sent back down to Triple-A, he became much more of a contact hitter, sacrificing over-the-fence-power.

In his second stint in LVG last year, MDD had .402/.487/.665 slash line in 192 PA, with a 13.5 K% -- which is just miles different from what he did previously.

Then, when he returned to the majors, he put up a .290/.392/.374 line in 125 PA with a 16.8 K%

Thomas Brennan said...

I agree with Brian on Dekker. Most guys never re-invent themselves. It really looks like Matt did. He realized he K'd too darned much and became an on base machine in the 2nd half of 2014. I am anxious to see if he further progresses in 2015. He also put up encouraging #'s vs. lefties in AAA last year. I'd still consider him a guy to use vs. only righties, but if Cuddyer gets hurt, he may get a whole lot of 2015 ABs.

Mets in 2013 (Harvey's breakout year) scored a stinking 619 runs, were 29th in average, and the bullpen languished with a 3.98 ERA, with 20 missed saved opportunities (Yanks missed just 13). It was worse when Harvey pitched.

Harvey in 2015 will have better offense and better bullpen work - and a team that wins more games. I think it will make him feel less like he needs to be the savior, and he now knows he is not indestructible. He is stubborn, but not stupid...so I am far more optimistic on Harvey in 2015.

No Steve Matz was either an oversight, or stupidity, on Fangraphs' part.

I have no issue with Nimmo starting out in Bingo. If he takes a quantum leap over his 2014 AA effort in the opening weeks of 2015, promote him.

Mack, I hope you're wrong on Cuddyer - we need at least one strong year out of him.

Thomas Brennan said...

Mack, Matt Reynolds may be 126 in fangraphs, but you did not have to cross my name out - I'm 126A :)

He looked real relaxed and comfortable standing next to a real relaxed and comfortable looking Sandy Alderson in a pic I saw the other day. May be kindred spirits. Good when a guy and the boss think alike, promotions-wise.

Mack Ade said...

Brian/Thomas - I still can't seem to fins any room for den Dekker and he seems destined to platoon

Christopher Soto said...

Enmanuel Zabala??? over Matz???

Your kidding right?

That's just terrible....

Ernest Dove said...

I guess bottom line is that (barring injuries) players like den dekker, Plawecki and Reynolds can easily be in Vegas for the entire season. .......but it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

James Preller wrote . . .

I've said this before. The redundancy in the Mets OF is Lagares & den Dekker.

A mini version of the old Mookie/Lenny problem -- which was not a problem, of course, unless you fixated on HRs and ignored the fact that Lenny was clearly better. (Sorry: old wounds.)

Signing Cuddyer killed any dream of den Dekker in a corner OF spot, though it could be that his new, improved lack of power killed it for him. Viewed through that lens -- a flaw in SA's approach, which led to last year's CY signing -- MdM can't hang with Cuddyer.

I think Kirkkk is a decent 5th OF and they are not going to let him walk.

Trades -- the shuffling of resources -- would help the organization moving forward. To date, SA has shown no ability in this regard.


Reese Kaplan said...

How many games will the manager win or lose with his decision making on the lineup, substitutions, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Reese, respectfully, I think your laser-like focus on "Terrible Collins" is misguided.

The lineup is already set. There's no competition for any spots except, what, 25th man and 2nd LOOGY? And do we really think that's going to be TC's call?

Last year, SA made a promise to CY, signed him for $7.5 million, and kept his word. At SS, Flores should have played more, if only to gather information moving forward. But I don't think for one second that TC defied SA and played Tejada.

How many games did he cost them last year? Shrug. Don't know. He works for a GM who tells him who to play. I don't believe that TC, a middle manager, is the guy providing "the vision" for this thing. These battles are mostly won and lost before the first shot is fired.

James Preller

Dallas said...

When do they show Puello the door? Last possible date then hope he doesnt get claimed? If he rocks Spring do they give him a shot over Soup?

Mack Ade said...

James -

My guess is Cuddyer's future injuries could help den Dekker this year. I don't expect him to hold up

Mack Ade said...

Dallas -

It seems to me that there is nothing Puello can do at this point to succeed here.

There also seems to be a press block on anyone reporting on him.

Thomas Brennan said...

James and Reese - I ran it thru Spel-chek and it came up Terry-bull, not terrible.

Puello needs to make his case with some 450 foot shots and stolen base explosiveness. Or his days may be #'d in Metsville.

Jays now need an OF - trade Kirk or Puello for the next Syndergaard. We luv Jays trades.

Hobie said...

Den Dekker:

The Alternate History Almanac says that had den Dekker not broken his hand in 2013 ST, he would be today’s Juan Legares—GG CF, batting LO, with slightly more pop than Juan. We would be wondering what to do with this Legares guy who tears up AAA and fills in nicely defensively and makes decent contact when he gets the chance in Queens, The Cuddyer signing would deny him a larger role again.

In this universe, with our park and our pitching, an OF with Legares & den Dekker is whole bigger than the sum of the parts, yielding reduced coverage requirements for a Cuddyer/Granderson LF and valid PH threat (one of G/C) off the bench.

My compromise would be a rotation that plays each of Grandy, Cuddyer, Legares and denD approximately 75% of the time. Add some games for Cuddyer at 1B, C/G as DH and maybe subtract some for Granderson and/or denD against LHP with Mayberry (could have been Puello more cheaply).

I wouldn’t mind either if SA could find a home for Granderson in, say, a Hamilton-less LA sometime this summer and un-block Nimmo.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hobie, I largely agree with your suggestion "My compromise would be a rotation that plays each of Grandy, Cuddyer, Legares and denD approximately 75% of the time". I might go 80/80/80/60, but it is up to den Dekker to get them thinking that way.

I am sure Matt showed enough in the 2nd half to have it at least be a thought crossing their minds - that he could warrant a lot of playing time in 2015 - but far from a lock - it is up to Matt to show them it's the right thing to do, by continuing his 2nd half 2014 performance in 2015.

Anonymous said...

The best you can hope for with Cuddyer is a disappointing year and a trip to the DL? what is the worst you can hope for? It may or may not be reasonable to expect a down year and injuries, but the guy has had too much success in his career to give him a ceiling of disappointment and injury. I think the best you can hope for is a reasonable year of health and production at or near what his baseball card reads. It is certainly not out of the question.

The clogging issue is real and will likely only get worse in the coming years because there are not many position players or even pitchers outside of Matz and Thor who will be graduating to the majors, so as lower level prospects move up, it is likely to be exacerbated. What Sandy and Co really need to do is become as creative as possible to trade minor league volume for quality. Not sure if it is doable, but he needs to try to turn 2-3 decent prospects into one good one. Also, if the Mets decide to trade Gee, Colon, Murphy and even Niese, the likely return would be upper level prospects, not ML players, so the issue could be compounded. Much of the trade interest is to improve the major league team, but they are going to have to start moving some minor league players for other minor league players or end up facing the Logan Verrett, Juan Centeno or Cesar Puello dilemmas
Anon Joe F

Mack Ade said...

Joe F -

I said the "best I can predict" for Cuddyer, not "the best you can hope for".

I'm not high on this deal. That's all.

Mack Ade said...

It was fun being back on site today.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey Mack, it was fun having you back. Great that some guy came up with the idea for this site :)

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