Mack’s Morning Report - 2-11-16 – Mets Starters, Kevin Plawecki, Asdrubal Cabrera, Cuban Baseball


Good morning.

I wrote yesterday about what Brad Johnson said about the Mets relief squad. It’s only proper to add today what he wrote about the rotation –

The rotation is headlined by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey. Most everybody expects the trio to be among the top 20 pitchers in baseball. Trailing behind them is Steven Matz, another promising young starter. Matz isn’t an ace in the making, but he looks like an above average real world and fantasy starter. Proud Papa Bartolo Colon will serve as rotation patriarch.

The influx of talent has left Zack Wheeler as something of a forgotten man. The club is targeting a July 1 return date from Tommy John surgery. At his best, Wheeler wielded a 95 mph fastball with a strikeout per inning and a few too many walks (about 4.00 BB/9). He’s a very different pitcher than Matz, but the talent level is/was comparable. You can never be completely positive a pitcher will return from Tommy John.

If something goes wrong in the rotation before July, things will get a little more dicey. On another team, Rafael Montero would have a more prominent role. Despite success in the minors, the former prospect has had trouble cracking the Mets stacked rotation. He struggled with a rotator cuff injury last season, so he’s not a safe sixth starter either. He can be optioned to the minors one more season.

Mack – It was good to see that Montero got a mention here. He still goes into this season as the emergency pick-up-the-phone SP6.
Let’s remember… there are always injuries.

Anthony McCarron quotes Kevin Plawecki about his 2015 sinus problems -

“It was almost like a drunk feeling without having anything to drink, that’s the best description. Makes you very uneasy. It’s scary, really, too, because you can’t pinpoint why. It was really frustrating to deal with. My right sinus was completely blocked, so I wasn’t getting any air flow through there, but I didn’t feel sinus pressure. Then when we’d fly and that would magnify things. Then we’d be home in New York for a week and I’d feel OK, but then we’d fly again…It was hard to figure out until we got more tests done. Now I’ve gotten the sinuses cleared out."

Mack – One would think that correcting this problem will only help Plawecki this season. You need to be at 100% both mentally and physically to compete at the major league level and I would think that  it’s important to be able to breathe.

It was interesting to read  Robert Cricola's breakout on why the Mets brought in infielder Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal Cabrera was picked up as a utility infielder the same week that Walker was brought in. The 30-year-old 2B/SS is coming off a renaissance year in which he batted .265 with the Rays with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs. He may not the be the player he was in 2011 and 2012 when he recorded back-to-back All-Star nominations with the Indians, but he should be able to relieve some tired players on occasion and deliver some quality at-bats from either side of the plate off the bench.

Mack – This is the first time I’ve read that Cabrera is going to be a ‘utility’ infielder on the Mets. Did the Mets actually spend $8.25mil a year on a player to ‘back up’ someone making $625K (Wilmer Flores)?

Here’s a great story on Cuban baseball by Peter Gammons -

It was well after 10 p.m., we were leaving a playoff game in Havana between Industriales and La Isla, and we were driving back to our hotel. Down one dimly-lit street there was a line a half-block long, and when we asked what could possibly be going on at that time of night, our guide, who worked for the ABC Havana Bureau, said, “loosely translated, you would call it a ‘snitch line.”
She further explained that people could get get extra food rations or stamps if they came into the government office and, “give information about neighbors, of people they know about.”

The time was not so long ago, 1989, ten days before the Baltimore Orioles would come to play the Cuban National team. Kendrys Morales and Yulieski Gourriel were 15, playing for a sports academy outside Havana (where Jose Fernandez would later attend and play), Jose Contreras was the national team’s best pitcher.


Ernest Dove said...

I believe that writer is discounting Matz quite a bit. He'd easily be deservedly hyped as a front line starter on MANY other teams right now. We should never forget he's a power LEFTY starter.
And im glad he is now eligible still for rookie of the year.

Thomas Brennan said...

Matz will win ROY. Hey, he might even win the Cy Young. And he's not Cuban!

I hear Plawecki had his procedure done at Mt Sinus Hospital in NYC. Just kidding but he nose he'll do much better this year now that he is healthy.

Rafael Montero will do fine in 2016 - I bet he stays healthy.

On this team, a lot of guys will be utility players - and some of those will get 400-500 at bats. All will hit. We're past Soup, we're moving on to the main course. We will win. it will be fabulous.

Mack Ade said...

Ernest -

I agree with you about Matz.

His biggest problem might be that he is surrounded by so many great pitchers he just may never get proper recognition.

Mack Ade said...

Thomas -

By the way, welcome back s a writer.

On this team, with our manager, isn't everyone just a utility player? :)

Reese Kaplan said...

Elsewhere yesterday I pondered aloud about the Cabrera decision. To wit, he was worth -17 DRS in 2014 and improved to -10 DRS during his "renaissance" year in 2015. His bat delivered .265/15/66.

By contrast, Wilmer Flores who looked totally lost defensively at the beginning of the year at SS improved as the year went along, eventually drawing praise from the national broadcast booth in the post-season. He also finished with a -10 DRS which, given the dreadful start, showed steady progress. His bat delivered .263/16/58. I always wondered what made Cabrera worth $17 million more than Flores.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Did I miss something about Cabrera (I had to travel to Florida to spend time with ailing mother-in-law).

Thomas Brennan said...

Thanks, Mack. Good to be back.

Reese may like this idea: maybe we need an innings limit for the manager. Terry can be our utility manager. Mack can manage against teams over .500.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Mack -- no, I participate in a Mets fan mailing list with Metsiac and others. The bashing of Flores came up and the numbers don't bear out the Cabrera investment as a wise one.

Jacob Falk said...

"Well past 10 pm............ What could possibly be going on at that time of night" hahaha I think Gammons age is inadvertently sneaking its way in here

Ernest Dove said...

Like many of us have been saying, its not our money...........maybe Wilmer catches FIRE in spring.
Maybe even Cecchini obliterates aaa pitching and simply deserves promotion and starting job. Then Cabrera can be an overpaid utility guy. Sounds like a good problem to me.

Anonymous said...

About Flores - I know he'll never be a strong defender at SS but I think he was more than adequate in the postseason. And I think the reason why is because he was finally able to relax. Tejada was out and he had no reason to look over his shoulder. I really believe that Wilmer's offensive production could outweigh his defensive shortcomings if he were given the job outright without having to worry about Terry pulling him for Tejada after a bad series, (either offensively or defensively). It grates on you when you're constantly looking over your shoulder.

It would be different if we had a defensive whiz at SS who could give us .280/.500/.780 but, right now, we don't. I'm willing to give up a little on defense to get the best bat in the lineup, especially since our staff should have a a high K ratio. I like Cabrera and he may be a slight upgrade, but I can't imagine he'll be a significant upgrade. Either way, I think 2016 is looking like a good year to be a Met fan.

Mack Ade said...

Anonymous -

I especially agree that I don't think we have much to argue about right now.

bob gregory said...

Regarding Flores:

Any time a narrative is set about a player, (example- "bad defender") it is very difficult for commenters to change their comments.

People have heard a criticism about a player and it gets repeated. This will continue at times even if it is an exaggeration and any examples that reinforce the criticism will be magnified.

Examples that do not support the narative will unfortunately be dismissed much more easily.

TP said...

I don't see it mentioned much, but from my perspective the Mets brought Cabrera in more to protect against Wright's back. Yes, he will likely start over Flores on most days, but he does provide a legit MLB bat that is still young enough to play every day at multiple infield positions, something Uribe and/ or Johnson could not provide.

bob gregory said...

I am a bit concerned for Rafael Montero due to the mysterious nature of his injury last year.

There were just too many instances of staff members projecting him to be ready to pitch again but Montero's performance not seeming to match his pre-injury abilities.

The way he kept returning to being injured without any clear diagnosis that explained the continued complaints by Montero is just unsettling.

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

I remember discussing Flores with the Sand Gnats trainer when he played there. He told me that Flores would never have the legs to play SS in the pros

bob gregory said...


I believe you. Completely.

At the same time however, though Flores may not have performed at the top level of major league Shortstops, he did play adequately when watched from game to game. He certainly did not look like he was playing out of his league.

Add to this the understanding that his playing experience at shortstop has been limited due to the position flipping he has done since he was in the minors.
He may never be a top shortstop defender, but does he deserve more criticism than Cabrera?

The narative also goes the other way. Keep in mind the "Almighty" Derek Jeter. How often did his range at shortstop get overlooked and ignored?
How many of his spectacular moving-toward-3rd base-and-jumping-while-throwing-to-1st was a result of his lesser range? How many other shortstops would have made the play with more time to set themselves?

The narrative on Flores defense started to become way over blown when it started to label him as a terrible 3rd base and 2nd base defender as well. I believe it had reached the point that some would even out of hand label him as a terrible 1st base defender before he might even put a 1st baseman's mitt on.

So, sure Flores will never be a top defender at shortstop. He did have a couple top defender caliber plays at shortstop though. He did admirably well through his own effort and hard work to improve every day.
He certainly did not embarrass himself.

I may exaggerate in this next statement a bit, but according to some things people began to say about Flores: it would seem like he was a youth travel level player trying to play shortstop at the major league level.

IB said...


I think you make an excellent point about how the meme pretty much rules the day. It’s tough to break through with any kind of independent critical thinking once the idea of say, Flores stinks as a SS, has been driven hard into the collective consciousness. Drives me “batty” sometimes.

Coney Island Eric said...

I watched a number of Mets games last season on MLB.com. I often watched the feeds from the opposing teams and was very pleasantly surprised at how much praise they had for Flores, but at bat and in the field. It was refreshing to see how some detached knowledgeable observers saw him. The same was true in the post season when his defense drew praise from the national announcers.

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