Mack - Friday Morning Report - 3-13-15 - Substitute Players, Early Observations, Last Thoughts, Dario Alvarez


I have a difficult time figuring out the exact kind of player a team should have as the ‘backup’ for a field position. Should it be the next best talented player in the system that comes of age or should a team concentrate on someone that is either an offensive (pinch hitter) or defensive specialist at that position that doesn’t look like he’s going to upset the apple cart by challenging the starter at that position?

Take catching

We all know two things… one, Travis d’Arnaud has been crowned the starting catcher for the Mets… and two, Kevin Plawecki is one of the top prospects in baseball and will outgrow the minor leagues by, latest, the end of this season.
Path number one could be a trade for either of these guys, but a lot can be said for having additional top talent in your dugout for pinch hitting or late inning work. But here’s the rub… Plawecki is not going to get the proper amount of both at-bats and innings to keep his game fresh and a lot can be said for path number two, which would be to keep him at the AAA level until he or d’Arnaud can be moved out of the system for a top talent at another position.

OF Joc Pederson of the LA Dodgers would be a good comparison here. He has easily been ready to play full time baseball at the major league level, but he had to wait until the Dodgers were able to make a deal for Matt Kemp and (hopefully) move Peterson into the starting lineup in 2015.


Well, I’m a big fan of defensive baseball and, if my starter isn’t great at preventing runs, the least I want is the substitute at this position to be a specialist in that area. In my world, Anthony Recker fits perfectly in this position for 2016.

I don’t care how many positions a substitute player can play (Eric Campbell); I care how many he can play well.

And, to me, the tie-breaker in picking who is chosen for a platoon utility position (4th and 5th outfielder), they too should be excellent defensive players first.

It’s far too early to draw any conclusions as to the faith of the 2015 Mets. One of the most important things right now is the only ‘injury’ that will change the makeup of the opening day 25-man is Josh Edgin.

There are differences of opinions on this blog regarding the depth of, err, depth on this team and I for one think it’s far too thin.

Strangely, an injury and loss of one of the rotation pitchers would actually help sort out what to do with all the talent there. We talk all the time about how deep the talent pool here and yet management wants us to believe that 29 other teams didn’t want anything to do with established starters like Dillon Gee, Jonathan Niese, or Bartolo Colon, as well as projected back-end starters like Cory Mazzoni and Matt Bowman.
As of the end of business last night,

I still believe one of the rotation pitchers will be traded before the season starts and it will probably happen after a member of some other team’s rotation gets a bad MRI reading. Gee giving up two runs in his first outing this spring didn’t help his value on the open market and it’s my guess that Colon will be the one to go (if he continues to pitch well this spring).

Trust me… the $11mil he’s owed this year means nothing if he can deliver 13-15 wins to a team out there trying to make the playoffs. This is chump change in today’s world of baseball. 

And one more thing about the current Mets rotation before we go any further. Last Friday’s televised game against Detroit was a great opportunity to see the return of David Wright and the debut of Michael Cuddyer, but watching this game was all about the return of Matt Harvey. His two perfect innings that included one 99-mph pitch warmed even my heart and… once again… though it is early… it’s easy to dream about how easy the Mets goals will be if Harvey can deliver 15-20 wins this season.

Since then, the pluses and minuses of both Harvey and Noah Syndergaard have sort of cancelled out each other. Harvey gave up a couple of runs on Wednesday, but Thor didn’t. A couple of the other starters winded early (Wheeler) and threw one bad pitch (Colon).

Overall, I’m happy with what I see early from the projected rotation, but I’ll be much happier when they can pitch into the sixth inning and still keep their ERA below four.

Last thoughts before the week ends…

I feel much better about where the Mets and this blog is going in 2015. Both of us had to make changes that were necessary and will pay off in the future. The addition of Matt Harvey on the mound and competitions for the fifth outfielder and shortstop have already made for more solid results coming off the bats. Regarding MMs, the writings of other have shines and the site has become even more intelligent and knowledgeable as the past.

We all are a little minor league crazy around here. But I especially rely on Tom Brennan to keep us up to date on the next two or three players that are knocking on the doors of the major league clubhouse. Will it be Kevin Plawecki or Matt Reynolds in the field or Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz on the bump?

Tom will know and have it here first.

I like to think that everything that goes well at this point in Spring Training is a positive mood; however, everything that goes bad just falls into the early ‘shit happens’ category. 

It does look like the acquisition of outfielder John Mayberry Jr. is going to turn out to be a good thing for this team. Mayberry is a pure hitter that is ready made for a platoon system.

Right now, in my opinion, there is no leader for LHRP fopr the pen. We're going to have wait until the end of spring training to hopefully come up with at least one lefty to take north.

I am starting to feel sorry for what seems to be inevitable for outfielder Matt den Dekker. I’m not sure there is anything he can do to stop hot hitting Kirk Nieuwenhuis from winning the left hand hitting utility outfield slot on the 25-man squad. Both are 28-years old now and far past any consideration for prospect status. And, both are obviously proven major league players at this point in their career. The game can be very cruel sometimes.

And, if you think that’s cruel, what if Nieuwenhuis continues to hit this hot into the regular season? Would the Mets consider platooning him in left field with Mayberry and designating Michael Cuddyer as the platoon buddy for Lucas Duda at first base?

We all know that the correct approach to the draft is always to pick the ‘best player available’ when it’s your time to pick. We also know that the majority of players you pick in the draft are never going to make it to the major league level.

This being said, what should the Mets do if they have a deficiency of left handed pitchers in their system? Should they adjust the ‘BPA’ philosophy and, let’s say, draft three lefties in their top ten picks in next year’s draft?

Nobody can guarantee that a pitcher that dominates in the lower levels will work out in the majors. A perfect example of this would be Adam Kolarek and Jack Leathersich. Kolareck threw 44-G, 1.71, 63-IOP, 63-K for AA-Binghamton in 2013, but had an 11.25-ERA in two AAA-Vegas outings, followed by a disappointing 48-G, 6.07, 56.1-IP, 43-K, 21-BB back at AA ball. Leathersich… well, we all know the dominant strikeout numbers early by ‘Leather’, who has turned out to be a minor nightmare in 2014 (as well as so far this spring).

Everybody in baseball agrees that you can’t have enough good lefties coming out of your pen, but you still can’t operate your organization correctly unless you are picking the player your scouts have told you should be the next name to come off the board.

Regardless of yesterday's outing (0.0-IP, 4-ER, 3-BB), the Mets may have one already in their system in late bloomer Dario Alvarez. Alvarez entered organized baseball in 2007 for the DSL Phillies. He pitched three years at that level and was released after the 2009 season.

He joined Brooklyn for the 2013 season (12-starts, 2-4, 3.10), but it was last year that he shined playing against much younger ballplayers than himself, giving up only nine earned runs in 73.1 innings for Savannah, Binghamton, and St. Lucie. He also was called to Queens when the Mets were short a lefty and, though he wasn’t successful (4-G, 1.1-IP, 2-ER, 13.50), it still was a nice reward for a job well done in the minors.

There’s a fastball that sits around 92… and a ++ slider that could make him special if he throws it consistently, but any projection of this guy has to come with a caveat… he will play 2015 as a 27-year old and this just might be the best he will be at this game.

For now, throw away all the success and failure as a minor league pitcher in the past, and, while you're at it, shit-can yesterday's outing as well.

Alvarez has to be evaluated now as a potential major league left-hander out of the pen, something he just might turn out to be good at in 2015.


Anonymous said...

Throw another name into the lefty competition hat.

I'm hearing the club is going to bring over Chase Huchingson from the minor league camp to throw in a few major league games.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey Mack

Happy Friday to ya

Dario Alvarez - I was just singing his 2014 minor league praises to someone yesterday (10-1, 1.10, 0.80 WHIP, and 114 Ks in 73 innings), and he serves up yesterday's stinker. But that is one bad outing out of 4, and may have been due to nerves. I hope so. Your pointing out the lower minor successes of Kolarek and Jack the K where both had difficulty is sobering.

I'm nervous about the other guys - Gilmartin and Rice are soft-tossers and Jack L is Wild Man Jack. So let's hope it was a one game growth hiccup from Dario.

What I will add about Dario is that in his limited innings last year once promoted to St Lucie and Bingo, he was lights out (19 Ks in those 10 innings and almost untouchable), so there is a sign that it was not all due to South Atlantic league hitting opponents' weakness.

Interesting stat as a follow up to my article yesterday: 10 guys who are iffy as to making team, or who have no realistic chance (Carillo, Muno, Reynolds, Kirk, Monell, Campbell, Dekker, Puello, Conforto, and Tovar) are hitting a combined .393 (55 for 140), with 20 walks and 27 Ks. To me, that makes following ST much more fun....which will wilt in the weeks ahead, and which will stay hot? Kirk and Reynolds are both highly impressive so far.

I do feel bad for Dekker if he does not make the team - he had a great 2nd half 2014, has done fine this spring (.429 on base), but Kirk has the clear lead. So Dekker may be forced to lead AAA in hitting this year.

I like Monell over Recker unless he is much less able defensively. I see he caught 23 of 68 stealers in 2012, but the past two years, just 16 of 102...so I wonder if he sustained an arm injury. Recker the past 2 years got 17 of 61.

One last note of the nit-pick variety: Dekker and Kirk both won't turn 28 til mid-August, and Alvarez will pitch this year as a 26 year old. To your point, none are youngsters in baseball years.

Mack Ade said...

Chris -

It does look a little desperate in camp over this issue, doesn't it?

Zozo said...

Hopefully they can trade Kirk to either the Angels, blue jays or some other team and move on from him. Keep MDD and Puello up and send soup down.

Thomas Brennan said...

In regards to Plawecki, I wonder if the plan is to have Carillo be the back up next year and trade Plawecki?

Carillo will have to show he's up to the job, but has trended offensively in the right direction the past two years. By next year, assuming Recker's the back up, one would think he'd start to get too rich for Sandy's tastes, as he is arb-eligible in 2016. It might be Carillo time.

Thomas Brennan said...

Mack, how would you like to be Darin Gorski - they're getting desperate for a living breathing lefty, and your name does not come up. That must hurt.

Hobie said...


Two words: Angel Cuan :=)

Reese Kaplan said...

There were some Gorski mentions (if not actual sightings) yesterday in the Mutt and Jeff press statements about the left handed relief pitcher situation -- you know the one in which the field manager says he can go into the season without one and his boss says that's unlikely to happen. Hey Sandy -- maybe you ought to get Terry's cell phone number so you can talk to him and get on the same page once in awhile.

Anyway, it was the little general who mentioned both Gorski and Below as possibilities from over on the minor league side of camp -- right after he said maybe they won't have a lefty. It was actually Huchingson's name that I never heard come up, but he might be better suited for Colorado or Seattle anyway given his past history:


Buddy3 said...

Love the Zozo comment. Captain Kirk has had his chances. I would trade him for a LOGY if possible and keep Puello and Den Dekker.

That would require optioning Campbell, but last year the Mets did not get out of the first 2 weeks without players hitting the DL. Better to option who you can and not give away assets for nothing. they will all be needed this year, as they are every year.

Anonymous said...

We may see Alderson revisit the Colorado Rockies and ask about Rex Brothers again.

There's no way the team is going to operate all year without an established left handed reliever.

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

I would have expected Gorski to be at the Big Boy camp by now

Mack Ade said...

Hobie -

The sad part is the team now has to spend an inordinate amount of time throwing lefties out on the mound, looking for a solution here.

Some righties are not going to get the innings they need to build up their arms

Mack Ade said...

My guess is Alvarez will get a pass for a lousy outing (4 b batters... three walks and a single)... remember, it was Carlos Torres that came in and gave up the grand slam that had the lion share of runs charged against Alvarez.

Anonymous said...

I think eventually one of Kirk or MDD gets moved because they fill similar needs and would have value to some other teams. Kirk has shown that he is at least a valuable extra OF, who can play all 3 spots, hits with a little pop from the left side and has some speed, in addition to showing decent pinch hitting ability. Those attributes have some value in the bigs. MDD on the other hand, still has everyday regular potential because of his ++ glove and at least a track record in the minors of figuring out the offensive side of things after adapting. I know that many want MDD on the team to start, but if he goes back to Vegas, he and Kirk will be playing the roles they are best suited to: Kirk as an extra OF and MDD as a starting CF. If MDD picks up where he left off last year (almost leading the PCL in hitting) some team may come asking for him to start in CF. If one of them has to go and Gee ends up getting moved, a package of Gee and Kirk or MDD has far greater value in return than if you moved any one of them alone. With the upper minors and major league team starting to get clogged up, it is time Sandy and Co starting moving two or three decent pieces in return for one higher prospect. he needs to turn some quantity into higher quality. If Gee and Kirk or MDD doesn't have a spot here, it doesn't make sense for one for one trades because it may just add to the clogging. helping a team fill multiple holes in one trade and maybe even add a lower level prospect might be worth a pretty decent upper level prospect

Buddy3 said...

When you look at how few minor leaguers were signed for AAA and AA this Winter you can really start to see that the minor league system is starting to get clogged up. I agree that it is time to start moving extra pieces and obtaining younger assets that can be developed over a 3 or 4 year time frame.

Mack Ade said...

And Buddy...

Sandy needs to stop worrying about whether he gives away too much to fill a position like LHRP

He has a ton of excess quality players (Gee, dD, Kirk, etc.) that can be packahed together for the right pitcher

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