As Casey Stengel purportedly once sagely stated, Can't anyone here play this game?  My question for 2015 is, with the Mets' 25 man roster looming, "Can anyone here NOT play this game?"  I think we're gonna have a wonderful 25 man.
We as Met fan have gotten so used to play over the past several years that can best be described as crappy.  CRAPPY!

Too many bad and downright mediocre and dastardly performances from too many guys.

Go ahead, Met fans, I'm sure you can rattle off a bunch.  

The Sean Marcums and Jose Valverdes of the world.  Go ahead.

Sure, we've had some wonderful performances (cue in Harvey, deGrom, and Duda last year, for a few) but check the soles of your shoes before you enter your blessed domain because you might still have some old Met Crap on them.

Toss the shoes out, folks, and break out the new, clean shiny ones.

I mean, consider that:

First, no one was listening to Matt Harvey say how great he felt.  But, to paraphrase Billy Crystal, it's not how you feel, it's how you pitch.  Harvey's 1 walk in 19 innings shows how ready he is to keep pitch counts down, stay in games, and...be healthy.  He only walked the one guy to prove to everyone he’s human – or is he?  Maybe they inserted bionic parts when they were doing his elbow, folks.

Second, the smart guys were expecting regression from Jake deGrom...not really focusing on how dominant he became late last year.  You don't strike out 8 in a row by accident.  He has been outstanding this spring, and would have had better results if not working on things to help make him more dominant this year.

Third, Niese is healthy and pitching very well, thank you.  Gee ditto, Montero ready to do damage, and Colon getting ready as Colon does.  Wheeler may be gone, but those 6 are extremely capable.

Fourth, Matz, Syndergaard, and Bowman are all rotation-ready if there was an immediate need. Instead, they will crush PCL hitters for a while, along with Tyler Pill.

Fifth, the Pen – well, it’s a bit shaky so far, but Dario Alvarez has only been scored upon once in 10 outings, in case you are still fraught with worry over the lack of lefty pen arms (should a trade not be forthcoming).  And I think a likely pen of Mejia, Familia, Black, Parnell (soon), Torres, Alvarez or Gilmartin, and probably Montero ain't chopped liver.  Well, at least that's what I thought before Sandy got Alex Torres and Jerry Blevins for two lefty pen spots. Those 2 turned a lefty situation from shaky to rock solid.

Alex has put up special numbers in his 2 seasons with the Padres, and having a fine spring.  Blevins eats up lefties, and brings much veteran experience...both for the price of Matt den Dekker, Cory Mazzoni, and a PTBNL.  GOOD USE OF SURPLUS ASSETS.

Rejoice.  The debilitating whiff of Valverde and Farnsworth has left the building.

Sixth, Zach Thornton has also had a nifty spring, by the way, and Leathersich may be deemed ready soon.

(Side question: will Las Vegas play .700 ball this year? A story for another day.)

Oh, you're not convinced about our 2015 Metsies?  Well, I just covered the fine pitching outlook, friends.

When I outline the 2015 offense on Thursday, you ought to be breaking out your Thom McAn oxfords, your Sunday Best, and tossing those crappy old shoes from seasons past in the dumpster because this team is going places...like a stroll down the Canyon of Champions - where there is no poop for your shoes to worry about.

I'm a sole man, what can I say?

Mack - Bullpen

Boy, the pen sure changed overnight, didn’t it?

There’s some pretty decent pitchers throwing poor results this spring but everything goes out the window on that first opening day in Washington.

For now… Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres, Rafael Montero, Alex Torres, and Jerry Blevens are ready to go.

It looks like Sean Gilmartin could be the third lefty going north until Vic Black comes off the disabled list.

And Bobby Parnell will return by Game 13 of the season.

The Alex Torres for Cory Mazzoni deal has changed everything. Boy, does this look like a great deal on paper, if for no other reason than the fact that the Mets had no plans on using Mazzoni in some future rotation role.

Then, Sandy Alderson pulls another rabbit out of his hat and Blevens fills the second lefty role out of the pen. This time it cost the team a little better of a minor leaguer (Matt den Dekker), but, like Mazzoni, wasn’t ‘part of the plan’ in the future.

I have to tip the Mack hat to Alderson who changed this pen overnight from a lot of questions to what looks like a solid group out of camp.

Hell of a couple of moves on Montero Day.

The Morning Report 3.31.2015 | Gee v. Montero, Monell's Strong Spring, Mets in Win Now Mode.

Kristie Ackert | New York Daily News- A day after Dillon Gee made his case, Rafael Montero made his pitch on Monday for the fifth spot in the Mets’ rotation. The 24-year old righty tossed six scoreless innings as the Mets beat the Marlins, 7-1, at Tradition Field. Montero gave up two hits, struck out six and did not issue a walk.“That is what everybody has been telling me about him,” Terry Collins said of Montero. “Last year… we did not see the command of the stuff that we had heard about. We’ve seen it the last two times, against two very good teams.“I think we may have to make the best judgement we can make as we get toward the weekend of who it’s going to be,” Collins said.

(Chris Soto: This is turning out to be quite the battle as Dillon Gee and Montero continue to match scoreless innings. Montero's command has significantly improved year over year and it seems like he spent a significant amount of time receiving instruction on how to improve his slider. In the past, we viewed the pitch as more fringe average as a complement to his plus change-up and fastball, however, this season it's looking like a legitimate 3rd plus pitch. I still think Dillon Gee will win the #5 SP job...especially now that the Mets have shored up the left side of their bullpen without sending Gee as part of the packages.)

Peter Kerositis | nytimes.com“...known more for his left-handed power bat than for his glove, (Johnny) Monell has impressed the Mets this spring after signing with the club as an off-season free agent and arriving as a non-roster invitee. In Grapefruit League play, Monell had converted 42 at-bats into a .357 batting average and four home runs through Sunday. “We’ve been very, very happy with what we’ve seen,” Mets Manager Terry Collins said of Monell. “Johnny has handled himself very well, and he’s going to get some more playing time this week.” 

(Herb G.: Is there a real competition between Recker and Monell for the backup catcher‘s job? It would be nice to think so. Monell has had a stellar spring, while Recker has been so-so. If Recker is the backup, it would mean that we would only have one lefty hitter on the bench, while Monell could provide a second bat from the left side, something that could definitely come in handy late in games. Monell is more than 2 years younger. Their minor league stats are fairly similar (.273/.351/.461 vs. 264/.347/.448). Although his average hovers around the Mendoza Line, Recker has much more MLB experience. He has spent 2 years with the Mets, earning the trust and respect of the pitching staff, and his defense could make a difference in a close game.)

Mike Vorkunov | nj.comTwenty four hours ago, the Mets bullpen lay with uncertainty. They had no definitive left-handed option. No healthy pitcher for the seventh inning. And three open spots remaining. By now, that has changed. The Mets made two acquisitions Monday. They traded for left-handed pitcher Alex Torres from the Padres and lefty Jerry Blevins from the Nationals. Each is penned in for the bullpen and will add about $1.9 million to the Mets payroll. In Blevins, the Mets acquired a pitcher who has allowed just a .594 OPS to opposing left-handed hitters for his career...And in Torres, the Mets now have a left-handed pitcher who has proven capable against right-handed hitters, allowing a .540 OPS to them for his career. "These two guys present a little different profile for us," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "On the one hand we have Blevins, who is a left-on-left, and we think Alex Torres is more of a guy who can go longer. 

(Herb G.: Kudos to Alderson. These are two fantastic trades. I am not taking any credit for the Blevins trade, but I did send Sandy an email on March 17 imploring him to give Montero a legitimate shot at earning the #5 spot in the rotation and suggesting Blevins as the best candidate for a trade for a lefty reliever, with lots of supporting stats. On March 19 he actually sent me a reply, saying merely “Thank you.” I don't, for one minute, think I influenced him to make that trade, but he has surely come through on both counts. Now, it looks like we go into the season with an extremely strong bull pen, with possibly 3 lefties where days ago it looked like we might have none.)


TRADE - LHP = Jerry Blevins

Mets Acquire Jerry Blevins

The Mets announced that they’ve acquired left-hander Jerry Blevins from the Nationals in exchange for outfielder Matt den Dekker

TRADE - LHP Jerry Blevins

Mets Acquire Jerry Blevins

The Mets announced that they’ve acquired left-hander Jerry Blevins from the Nationals in exchange for outfielder Matt den Dekker

FLASH: Mets Acquire Left Handed Reliever Alex Torres via Trade.

     The Mets have trade RHSP Cory Mazzoni and a Player to be Named Later (PTBNL) to the San Diego Padres in exchange for LHRP Alex Torres.

     Torres has posted a 2.49 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 44.7 percent ground-ball rate over the past two seasons. Over his career Torres has held lefties to a paltry .216 batting average while K'ing 26.5% of them. Surprisingly enough, Torres is also effective against right handers too. Over his career righties only have a .189 batting average against him despite a lower 22.3% K rate.

     The Mets also will receive some contract control in the deal. With only one year and 141 days of service time under his belt, Torres cannot become a free agent until after the 2019 season. However, he is likely to gain Super Two eligibility this year, thus, making him arbitration eligible after this season.

(Chris Soto- This is a superb trade! Cory Mazzoni was not likely to factor into the teams future plans whereas Torres is likely to become a mainstay in the Mets bullpen for at least the next 2-3 seasons. If anything Torres is also likely to amuse us a bit as he is one of the few players that's wears the MLB approved protective skull caps.)

Mack - Long Term Contract Extensions

I was talking to Gary McDonald (Metsmusings) earlier this week and he asked me what I thought was some of the important things the Mets front office need to do regarding the future of this team. I told him, in my opinion, the answer was pretty simply… start signing some long term contract extensions with some of the current young talent before they are lost in the post-arbitration free agency process.
Well, maybe the rumors about Lucas Duda and a deal well into his thirties seems like the correct thing to do. I have no problem turning over first base to him for the next six or seven years.

Who else should be considered?

Well, Duda is scheduled for free agency in 2018. So is Ruben Tejada, but I don’t expect the Mets offering an extension to him.

Six players are scheduled to become eligible for free agency in 2019… Jenrry Mejia, Carlos Torres, Matt Harvey, Anthony Recker, Jeurys Familia, and Josh Edgin.
Me? Well, I would be offering Scott Boras and Harvey a salmon dinner every night of the week until a deal would be made through the 2022 season. You have to get this guy under contract and prevent any chance of him winding up in the Bronx. You just have to.

I would also alert agents for both Mejia and Familia that their performance in 2015 could turn out be very rewarding for their clients. No rush on these two. Just get the word out there.

D Whit - Cesar's Last Stand?

The resolution of the Cesar Puello situation is coming soon. The 23 year old prospect has seen his star rise and fall a few times during his Met career. The final act of which may be just a few days away. I can’t imagine there’s not at least one team who wouldn’t jump at the chance to grab a potential 5 tool guy like Puello with the hopes he’d blossom under their tutelage. 

The loss of Puello would not hurt the Mets today, but in future seasons it could-probably around 2017. By that time Cuddyer will be gone and Granderson probably no longer a full-time player. In a perfect world Conforto and Nimmo should be ready by then to flank Lagares but when is the MLB world ever perfect. Kirk and den Dekker will be probably still be around too. By that time Puello may be starring in the outfield of Tampa Bay or worse yet the Phillies or Braves. At the very least he will be the on the short side of an OF platoon, or possibly a full time starter. 

That’s looking ahead but let’s return to the present for a minute. The problem with Puello is that you can’t keep him around as a 4th or 5th outfielder because he needs regular playing time. He’s not ready for full time MLB action yet, but could be by mid-season, of course at the point he most likely will be in a another team’s organization. I suppose the loss of Puello became a fait accompli with the signing of Mayberry, if not earlier. Still it’s never a good thing to lose one of the most talented players in the organization. 

To see his potential just rewind back to 2013 and the season he was having at Binghamton before the PED suspension. That suspension definitely changed the entire trajectory of Puello’s Met future. Instead of being clearly on the radar as potential future Met star, he sat out the final 50 games of that season and entered 2014 as a murky question mark instead of a solid exclamation point. The team didn’t know if his 2013 success was chemically induced. As for Puello, rusty after the long layoff despite playing winter ball, was probably questioning his success a bit too. Puello’s PED suspension caused the team to look to other options for the future, resulting in the drafting of Conforto, and later the signings of Cuddyer and Mayberry. 

The 50 game PED suspension changed the future of Puello and in many ways the Mets outfield too. We’ll find out soon if this is the end of his story with the Mets or if there will be a future chapter. I wouldn’t bet on it though. Unfortunately, in addition to the aforementioned teams picking up Puello, it also seems like the kind of thing the Pinstriped rivals in the Bronx would do.

The Morning Report 3.30.2015 | Extension Talks for Duda, The Fight Continues for #5 SP Role, Opening Day Starting 2B

Matt Ehalt | North Jersey- After setting career highs in homers and RBI, Duda is being counted on to be a key cog in the lineup. He said his talks regarding an extension have been "preliminary" and "hopefully" it works out. "New York gave me the shot to play in the big leagues. It’s definitely a first-class organization," Duda said after Sunday’s 3-2 win over St. Louis. "Unbelievable players, unbelievable staff. I’m blessed to be in the position I am. I’m very thankful."

(Chris Soto: Hey....why not? As long as the extension is no longer than say 3 additional years...I'm all for it. Nothing in Duda's numbers last season suggest regression and with power being at such a premium in this era of baseball, when you have it, you need to hold onto it as best as you can.)

David Lennon | Newsday- Gee returned to a starting role when Zack Wheeler was lost to Tommy John surgery, with the assumption that he would take over the fifth spot once the regular season began. But after Sunday's seven-inning start, Gee said the Mets still have not told him of their plans. Manager Terry Collins suggested that Rafael Montero, who will start Monday against the Marlins, still is in contention for the spot. "We're going to wait a while," Collins said.

(Chris Soto: As it should be. Gee has pitched well since the Zack Wheeler injury, however, for every good start he has had....Montero has matched it. Quite honestly, I would not be surprised if the club is secretly showcasing Gee for a potential trade for an established left handed reliever. It's been rumored that the club is still interested in LHRP Rex Brothers and after the Rockies released Jhoulys Chacin, there seems to be a rotation spot to fill over there.)

Anthony DiComo | MLB.com- With each passing day, it appears less and less likely that Murphy will heal in time for Opening Day, meaning the Mets must choose amongst Reynolds, Danny Muno or Ruben Tejada at second base. A week shy of Opening Day, Reynolds' track record gives him the apparent edge. "It definitely sets in a little bit, but nothing changes how I go about my business," he said. "I feel like I've been working really hard this camp. I came in working hard. It doesn't change just because I suddenly get thrown into the mix."

(Chris Soto: Quite frankly, as much as I would like to see Reynolds make the team.....Ruben Tejada has had an excellent Spring Training both offensively and defensively from a versatility standpoint. I haven't seen him hit this well since his breakout 2012 season. So far he's hitting .260 with a .721 OPS thanks to 7 doubles and 11 RBIs in 17 games. In comparison though, Muno is hitting .381 with a .971 OPS in 21 games and Reynolds is even better with a .381 AVG and a .995 OPS in 19 games.)


Positional Ranking - LF

#24 Mets

Michael Cuddyer595.262.319.432.3299.2-0.6-10.11.1
John Mayberry35.226.292.377.297-0.30.0-0.10.0
Matt den Dekker35.237.295.364.293-0.40.0-0.10.0
Kirk Nieuwenhuis35.221.290.382.297-

The ever-present, stubbornly persistent Michael Cuddyer took his talents to Flushing Meadows this offseason, bringing with him a bat that seemingly refuses to age when healthy (his 2014 batted ball distance was just behind Yasiel Puig). However, the issue of health is the main question for “Cuddy”, as he’s missed a lot of time over the past three seasons, especially in 2014, when he was on the 60-day DL for a fractured shoulder. The move from Coors Field to Citi Field is also a question, though Citi has shown itself to be kinder to right-handed power than first assumed. If Cuddyer can stay healthy, he should produce well above-average offensive numbers, but his poor defense in left field will always drag his WAR numbers down. The trio of platoon/defensive specialists John MayberryMatt den Dekker, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis figure to split any remaining at-bats, assuming Cuddy stays healthy.

Mack - I don't worry as much about his bat as I do his legs and glove. There also is always a good chance that his body will break down again and wind up on the disabled list.

No one will ever admit this, but I don't think the Mets signed him thinking he would be their top pick signed in the off-season. I think Sandy Alderson expected a lot more off-season action than he wound up with.

Still, Cuddyer is no slouch and his spring power outburst (5 home runs) may prove out that he can hit with power outside of Colorado.

I didn't fall in love with this signing, and I'm not sure if I ever will, but if he falls into a lineup of Wrignt, Duda, d'Arnaud, and Flores... all of which could hit over 20 home runs...  then the power on this team will be more spread out rather than be concentrated with one or two batters.


I wouldn't be surprised, due to future injuries, that Mayberry and Nieuwenhuis combined get the same amount of at-bats as Cuddyer does.

KATOH - Ranking of Farm Systems

Below, you’ll find the organizational farm system rankings according to KATOH.

TeamSum of WAR thru 28
Texas Rangers101.0
New York Yankees89.2
New York Mets88.2
Chicago Cubs83.9
Los Angeles Dodgers80.4
Houston Astros63.8
Boston Red Sox62.4
Pittsburgh Pirates55.9
Arizona Diamondbacks50.9
Tampa Bay Rays49.6
Kansas City Royals47.8
Seattle Mariners46.3
Atlanta Braves46.0
St. Louis Cardinals45.2
Cleveland Indians38.3
Detroit Tigers37.4
Toronto Blue Jays37.3
Minnesota Twins36.8
Chicago White Sox36.3
Oakland Athletics33.6
Baltimore Orioles33.4
Washington Nationals33.4
Colorado Rockies33.0
Philadelphia Phillies32.9
San Francisco Giants32.7
San Diego Padres30.1
Cincinnati Reds28.2
Milwaukee Brewers20.9
Los Aneles Angels of Anahiem17.2
Miami Marlins16.6

top 400

Mack - This is pretty damn impressive. When was the last time we saw the Mets ranked number one in anything?

I give Sandy Alderson most of the credit here because most of Omar Minaya's 'prospects' have graduated and also Alderson hasn't traded any of the good ones away. Bad for today, great for future years.

Reese Kaplan -- Final Bench Pieces

As Spring Training draws to a close there appears to be only two roster position battles among the bench players.  There are people doing everything they can to make an impression, though the tendency for the Mets is to go with the familiar player despite underwhelming results rather than taking a chance on someone new.  (We'll leave out the fact that it takes a direct order from the front office to get the manager to pencil a new name onto the lineup card.)  Let’s take a look at the contenders for each of these last two positions and see how they compare to one another.

Eric Campbell vs. Daniel Muno

“Soup” was a great story last year.  He was a long time minor league veteran who slowly and steadily climbed the ladder to the big leagues.  As a 27 year old rookie, the combination of his batting average and his positional versatility got him into Queens on the big club where he sat on the bench watching Bobby Abreu and others get chances to play while he collected splinters.  By the time his manager deigned to insert him into the lineup, he got out of whatever good hitting groove he’d been in and finished the season slumping badly, striking out in 26% of his ABs.  His minor league career was respectable.  He was a .284 hitter who knew how to work the counts (resulting in a career .380 OBP mark).  He never showed as much power as you might expect for a 6’3” 205 pound hitter, but still managed to produce a .416 SLG over his 2600 career minor league ABs.  During his various stops along the way he played all over the diamond, including significant stints at 1B, 3B and LF. 

This year’s Eric Campbell appears to be Danny Muno.  Leo Durocher once famously said of Eddie Stanky,  "He can't hit, can't run, can't field. He's no nice guy ... all the little SOB can do is win."  The same might be said about Muno.  When you look at his numbers, nothing is too eye popping, yet it seems whenever he plays he’d on base in the middle of things.  He’s hit as many as 14 HRs in 455 ABs (extrapolated out to about 19 on a full season).  He’s stolen as many as 19 bases (extrapolated out to about 38).  He’s a career .276 hitter.  He’s delivered a .395 OBP and a .419 SLG throughout his 1600 minor league ABs.  He’s a switch hitter who has played 2B, SS and a little bit at 3B.  At age 26 this year he’s not yet been in the majors.

Now Spring Training stats must be taken with something of a grain of salt as they are small sample sizes, yet when you compare the two players Muno has outpaced Campbell in this race.  Thus far for the spring Campbell is hitting .241 with 2 HRs, 9 RBIs, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts and a stolen base.  His OBP is .392 and his SLG is .561.Danny Muno is hitting .378 with 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts and a stolen base.  His OBP is .452 and his SLG is .541. 

Given he is a faster baserunner, left handed, and can play both middle infield positions, it would seem like it couldn’t hurt anything to give Muno a chance and keep Campbell ready in Las Vegas.  If the experiment fails, you can flip-flop them.

Anthony Recker vs. Johnny Monell 

A similar situation faces the Mets when it comes to the backup catcher role.  Anthony Recker has seemed to have had a knack for slugging home runs at opportune moments but in between the long balls he’s below the Mendoza line for his major league career.  At age 30 he’s still never been able to muster more than the 174 ABs in a season that he got for the Mets last year.  For his career he’s had 375 ABs and delivered a solid 14 HRs and 50 RBIs but hit a paltry .197 while striking out 36% of the time.  He’s looked good behind the plate and has the notable honor of gunning down Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton.

Johnny Monell is a career minor leaguer who has show great pop for a catcher, slugging as many as 20 HRs in a minor league season spanning 415 ABs.  That extrapolates out to about 29 HRs for a full season as a starter.  That’s pretty serious power.  The same holds true for his 71 RBIs which would turn into over 100.  This spring he’s done little to diminish his reputation as a solid hitter while posting a .316 AVG with 3 HRs and 8 RBIs over 37 spring ABs.  Extrapolated over the course of a full season that’s 48/129 – not likely to happen, but indicative that he’s got some serious run-producing ability.  Throw in the fact he’s a left handed hitter and it means you can choose which days to sit Travis d’Arnaud when tough righties like Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer pitch and insert Monell into the lineup. 

Recker has minor league options available, so, just like the situation with Campbell, you could stash the veteran in Vegas and give the chance to someone with the potential to be even better.  You still have the fallback of promoting Recker should Monell fail to adjust at the big league level. 

We Come to Bury Cesar, Not to Praise Him

Cesar Puello is obviously not in the Mets plans and his lack of opportunity this spring parallels what happened during his post-suspension year in 2014.    He’s not done himself any favors by hitting .241 with no homers and no RBIs across 29 ABs, so his days in Mets minor league laundry are apparently over.  The only hope is that he’s done SO poorly that he’ll pass through waivers unclaimed, but even then he’s likely not to get a starting role in AAA either, so it looks as if he’s going the way of Brandon Allen and Cory Vaughn.  

Mack - Mike Nickeas

photo  by Mack Ade 
Catcher Mike Nickeas retired. 

One of the nicest and most intelligent baseball players I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Nickeas attended college at Georgia Tech. He was selcted in the 5th round of the 2004 draft by Texas. In 2005, He batted .202 (49-242) with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home runs and 24 RBI in 68 games with Frisco in 2005. He also, hit .286 (6-21) with 1 double, 1 home run and 1 RBI with the rookie-level Arizona Rangers.

Nickeas was named the best defensive catcher in the Rangers' organization by Baseball America in 2005. In 2006, Nickeas appeared in 17 games with Bakersfield (A) of the California League this year, batting .297 (19-64) with 6 runs scored, 4 doubles and 6 RBI. Mike missed three weeks of action in May with a pulled hamstring before he was promoted to Frisco (AA) of the Texas League on May 28th. Nickeas hit .248 (28-113) with 15 runs scored, 7 doubles, 2 home runs, 15 RBI with 21 walks and 22 strikeouts in 39 contests with Frisco.

The Mets acquired Nickeas from Texas in exchange for OF Victor Diaz. He was assigned to the B-Mets after the trade and managed to get in 12 at bats before the season ended.

Nickeas is a fundamentally sound defender with average catch-and-throw skills and an athletic background. Born in Canada and raised in California, his English-born father was a professional soccer player. Despite his international background, Nickeas caught for Team USA last summer and as a prep player on the junior national team. He has average tools across the board, though he's a below-average runner. He struggled at the plate this season, with his average and slugging numbers down considerably from 2003. He isn't afraid to draw a walk, but scouts say he's been passive at the plate this season.

In January 2007, www.GothamBaseball.com surprisingly (IMO) listed Nickeas as the 10th top Mets prospect. Also in January, Rotoworld had him as the 15th top Mets prospect.

Nickeas started the 2007 season ‘extended’, but was transferred to Binghamton in late April (.271/.281/.278 in 212 at bats).

In September 2007, Nickeas was assigned to play in the Arizona Winter League (which is always a sign that the organization wants to invest more time and money in you)

7-11-10: - Mike hit his third home run of the season for Binghamton on Sunday. He’s been a .231 lifetime hitter going into this season, so his current .310 BA is a welcomed surprise for the 27-year old. Comments: I have become a very big fan of Nickeas, both as a player and a possible catching coach. He is a very intelligent human being who has been a great influence on players like Josh Thole. He also, by the way, has a great swing and is a very nice person He has always treated me with respect, which isn’t the norm for a Mets writer. I’m not convinced he will ever get a chance to start in Queens, but, if the pitchers had a say, he would. Reminds me of a young Mike DeFelice. This is the catcher you want to work with your prospects is AAA and AA.

My First Interview With Mike -

9-30-10 Interview:

Mack: - This morning we're talking with a real live New York Met, catcher Mike Nickeas. Morning Mike, what have you been doing lately (he he..

Mike: - Hi Mack, just continuing to learn and appreciate the game.

Mack: - Okay, well, we'll ask you about that single up the middle off of Yovani Gallardo later on in the interview...

Let's go back to 2004 when you were a 5th round draft pick by the Texas Rangers, out of GT. What was that day like? .

Nickeas: - It was very exciting, I remember feeling like my name was never going to be called. I was sat in a hotel room with my parents and my wife (girlfriend at the time), and when my name was called we all stood up and screamed and hugged, it was very cool.

Mack: - You came to the Mets in a great deal for OF Victor Diaz in 2006. And, for the next three seasons you played primarily at the AAA and AA level. I've asked many of the pitchers who they would like to have them catch them and you and Mike DeFelice win that survey hands down. Do you credit a mentor for some of the catching skills you possess? .

Nickeas: - Being compared to Mike is a wonderful compliment, I'm fortunate enough to have played with and been coached by him. I've been so fortunate to have had wonderful "catching guys" my entire career. Scott Stricklin at GT was wonderful and gave me great foundation to build upon. Don Wakamatsu and Damon Berryhill with Texas helped me tremendously. However, nobody has helped me more mentally than Bob Natal, I feel like he got me over the minor league hump, and he has always believed in my ability. So I was very fortunate to have such wonderful coaches along the way.

Mack: - Mike, you've been mostly known as a defensive specialist, but the bat came awake this year for Binghamton (.283/.403/.396/.799, in 265-AB). Was there something different you did to prepare yourself for that season? .

Nickeas: - I think the adjustments came when I went to Binghamton and was able to spend some time with Luis Natera and Tim Teufel. Luis really took me under his wing and remolded my swing. Tuff gave me an opportunity to play everyday, which is something I really have had until this year. I think in a lot of ways the stars just aligned and I performed.

Mack: - I hope somebody makes Tuff the #2 man behind the new manager... most of the current team was coached by him... well, that leaves us with this year and your call to Queens... I watched the night you started your first game and was thrilled for you... tell us all what it was like for you? .

Nickeas: - It was a great moment for me, it really is hard to describe what that moment meant to me and what it will always mean to me.

Mack: - I can't imagine. Listen, you've done well and the Mets are a better organization with someone like you in it. Best of everything this summer and I'll see you in Lucy come March. .

Nickeas: - Thank you Mack, see you then.

10-1-10: - 2011 Forecast: - Nickeas made the jump to Queens late in this season and there is a good chance he could return next spring as the 3rd string catcher. Frankly, I'd rather have him play every day in Buffalo, in case an injury hits Josh Thole. Nickeas has quickly become the teaching catcher and I continue to predict he will some day be a Mets coach.

Every Mets pitcher loved being caught by Mike and he’s always smile when I told him that he will someday become a great catching coach in the majors. I hope my prediction comes true. I know you’re a reader out there Mike. Best of everything and thanks for the memories.