One more day to cross of the calendar and we'll be in September.

Here are a few random thoughts:

SETH LUGO - is there still time for Rookie of the Year, or Cy Young?  OK, that's a bit much, but how about Lifesaver of the Year.  Huge games at the right time for the former 34th rounder.

GRANDY CAN - I have criticized his performance this year on a number of occasions, but the guy might still hit 30 after his 2 homers have him 22 with a month to go.  Nuts, man. I noted recently how well he has done in his first at bat in games this year, and how poorly afterwards.  His first at bat last night was not leading off, but pinch hitting, and he parked it.  Maybe he can be our Rusty Staub or Ed Kranepool pinch hitting from here on out.

JOSE REYES - I strongly advocated for giving him a MEA MAXIMA CULPA over his family issue and signing him.  He has been nothing short of incredible since returning.  Many categorized him as in decline.  I saw an unhappy guy still in his prime who might blossom in friendly environs.  Yep.   Move of the year.

CONFORTO AND NIMMO - both are crushing AAA pitching since being demoted:

Conforto in 16 starts has hit .493/.541/.821, making him .422 in his Vegas games this year.  He'll be just fine when he returns.

Nimmo hit his 10th and 11th the past 2 games, and in 19 August games, is crushing it at .407/.478/.667, lifting his season to .351/.424/.550, despite an April which ended with a slug % of .315.   Since the start of May, he has a huge .623 slug %. That .351 leads the PCL, also.

So it would seem Conforto and Nimmo will be highly useful call-ups in Sept.  Hey, call up Taijeron, too.  Maybe there is a pinch hit homer against a lefty in his bat, too.

GAVIN CECCHINI- now has 13 hits in his last 4 games.  That is not a typo -13.  He is up to .330.  In a hobbled NY Mets infield, I'd call him up for September, too.  Even Matt Reynolds, quiet with the bat most of the year, has been hot of late.  Call him up, all hands on deck.

Have a good day, people.


Reese Kaplan -- The Empire Strikes Out


For the third time in three years I've organized a company outing to see the Las Vegas 51s when they came here to see the hometown El Paso Chihuahuas and for the third time in three years they embarrassed me with a loss.

This time they were manhandling the Chihuahuas for the first few innings, but then the wheels came off rather quickly.  To be charitable, recently dispatched reliever Erik Goeddel was asked to make an emergency start when the Mets inexplicably promoted Logan Verrett.  He started strongly but then surrendered three runs in a hurry.

It's somewhat stupefying to look up at the scoreboard in one of these PCL affairs and take a gander at the batting averages:

Yes, that is indeed Brandon Nimmo as a Star Wars Storm Trooper.  It was Star Wars Night at the ballpark and there were various Darth Vaders and Storm Troopers roaming around the stadium throughout the evening.

The Force was most definitely not with the 51s.  Yes, they got a few long balls from Brandon Nimmo, Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto, but the pitching was what you would expect in a league where scrubs routinely surpass .300.  Actually, towards that end, when you're only hitting .257 like Matt Reynolds, maybe it's time to consider another line of work.

Gavin Cecchini looks like a real ballplayer.  He runs hard and takes good at-bats.  I spoke to him briefly and he said he tried a few reps at 2B, but he's still really committed to shortstop.  With Ty Kelly hitting .330, I can see they are not necessarily in a rush to move Gavin to the other side of the diamond.  He's improved as the season wore on, but without needing to be on the 40-man roster it's unlikely we'll see him in Queens in September.

The most interesting exchange of the evening, unfortunately, cannot be fully shared.  I flagged down a player who has spent some time in the big leagues and I asked what it was like playing for Terry Collins.  He rolled his eyes and said, "Sorry, man, I can't go there."

After assuring him I would protect his anonymity, he unloaded.  Apparently the players' manager doesn't have unanimous support.  He was pretty uncensored in his criticism but it was nothing new -- being benched after having a good game, watching others who were not delivering getting opportunities, etc.

I then asked what it was like playing for Wally Backman and was told when he has the freedom to make his own decisions, he's great.  Lately, however, he keeps saying he's being told who to play and where.

Frankly I was surprised by his candor (and bitterness).  However, it's a player who has an axe to grind, so take it with a silo of salt.  In a 6-5 loss, this interview was the highlight of the evening.





Mentioned a few Mets minors standouts yesterday, I'll mention a few today as well, with some overlap because some guys have been hot enough of late to get multiple mentions.

SS Gavin Cecchini is one of those multiples...he has exploded the last 3 games, going 11 for 14, and climbing to .329, placing him 3rd in the PCL batting race. 

Who are the #1 and #2 hitters?  Both Mets.  Brandon Nimmo at .348 and TJ Rivera at .347.  Impressive trio.  Cecchini continues his drastic reduction in errors over his past 40 + games, too.

RP Paul Sewald, unlike everyone else, is finding pitching in Vegas to be relatively easy, sitting at 5-3, 3.39 with 17 of 21 saves and 78 K in 64 IP.  In August and July, in 20 games, he has a 2.42 ERA, 26 IP, 16 H, 33 K.  Let the chant begin: Call up Paul, call up Paul.

Lefty giant Andrew Barbosa has battled a lat injury this year, but he was dazzling on a restricted pitch count for St Lucie last night, tossing 7 no hit innings in 85 pitches, walking 1 and fanning 11.  He has thrown 64 innings this year, 1.70 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and slightly more than a K per inning.  Besides injuries that have set him back in his career, he has had control issues, but not this year, with just 17 walks in those 64 IP.  He is 28-19, 3.34 career with 489 Ks in 409 IP.  he has pitched as high as AAA.  Why not call him up to the Mets for the stretch drive?  Last night was quite a sales "pitch".

Brooklyn righty reliever Gary Cornish is not pitching like a recent 19th round pick for the Mets. Last night, in 3 IP, the 22 year old allowed just 1 hit while striking out 6.  Not a fluke game, as Gary for the season sports a 2.45 ERA over 13 games, and in 22 IP, has an incredible 37-2 strikeout to walk ratio.  16 Ks in his last 3 outings spanning 8 IP.  Wow.

Kingsport OF Ricardo Cespedes went 4 for 4 yesterday, making him 19 for his last 41 over 10 games and boosting his average to .324...not bad for a guy who just turned 19.

Short and sweet - some highlights to make a Mets fan smile.





On the LIRR heading to the office, everyone else is sleeping, but I am thinking about a few minor leaguers. I'm weird that way.

Cespedes....no, Yoenis is not rehabbing down under, but I'll bet not many of you wished young Ricardo Cespedes a happy 19th birthday the other day.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RICARDO! The Bronx native is toiling for Kingsport in the Appalachian League, and has been Kingsport's hot stick lately, going .405 over his last 10 games and .311 overall on the season.  Not much power yet, but he has decent size and speed.  Keep up the good work, Ricardo....and again, happy birthday.

Knapp - I will definitely be looking to catch a nap on the LIRR way home, but that is not the Knapp I am focusing on.  Ricky Knapp has quietly gone 13-6 between St Lucie and Binghamton this year...should have been 14-5 had Binghamton scored a few more runs in a loss that Ricky pitched very well in yesterday.  He has an impressive 1.13 WHIP and a respectable 110 K in 158 IP, a quite high number of innings pitched in this day and age.  Future middle-or-end-of- rotation guy? Why the heck not?

Thompson- David Thompson's numbers have slipped a little since his promo to St Lucie, but his knack for RBIs has not, as he broke a late scoreless game with a 3 run shot, giving him 92 ribbie as in 111 games.  He'd probably have 100 RBI were it not for a DL stint this year.  Sweet.  Looking forward to seeing what he does in 2017.

Lindsay and Alonso - the former injured earlier this season, and the latter injured now, but the two have combined for the Cyclones to hit .313 with a great OBP and 9 homers.  The rest of the team?  Hitting an amazingly bad .194 in about 2,100 at bats, AND they use a DH.  The team's other hitters hope to someday hit like Bartolo Colon.

Zanghi - through some glitch, this Cyclones reliever's stats are not being shown by MILB.  They need to fix that fast, because Joe Zanghi has done some mighty fine relieving for Brooklyn post-draft: 1-0, 8 saves, 1.27 in 28.1 IP, with 43 strikeouts. Very nice, Joe.

Dunn - After Justin Dunn, I'm Dunn....ere...done here.  Our first round selection has been on an innings restriction, and hence has thrown three 2 inning outings and six 3 inning outings, nothing longer  He has been impressive, with a 1.50 ERA and 28 K in those 24 IP.  Three of his 4 earned runs came in one outing, so he has been mostly dominant. The flamethrowing craftsman is likely to move up very quickly in 2016.

Have a great day, folks.  Before I go, though, I sure liked what I saw of Robert Gsellman yesterday, but unfortunately, the Mets proved again that if you remove Cespedes, Walker and Cabrera from the lineup, the runs will be scarce.




I felt before 2016 like Nimmo and Cecchini were bust first round Mets picks.

At the start of the season in Vegas, in April, nothing was happening to cause me to change my mind, as both started out a powerless 10 for 55.

But then the rest of the season happened.

Brandon Nimmo likes the high .380's.  In June, he hit ,388.  In July he hit .389.  In August so far, .389.  He is hitting .346/.420/.531 on the season despite the slow April start.  A word of caution: he is hitting .387 at home this year, and just .311 on the road, but that is still not bad.  Also, just 9 HRs in 400 plate appearances - hopefully that # will eventually expand.  He hit just .238 in 240 at bats in Binghamton last year after a mid year promotion from A ball, hence my skepticism coming into this season about Brandon.  A skeptic no longer.  It is hard to imagine he will not get major playing time with the Mets in 2017, absent a trade.

After a 5 for 5 (2 double) night, giving him 8 hits in his last 2 games, Gavin Cecchini sits at .325/.388/.449 with just 52 Ks in 109 games.  Very similar #'s to last year's .317/.377/.442 with Binghamton in AA.  Gavin's big flaw earlier this year (besides his slow start) was a ghastly error rate at SS…but over the past 40 games, he has his error rate down to a very normal level.   He is still 22, so a guy who looked to me like a bust prior to 2015, then opened some eyes with a very solid 2015 has opened them even wider.   Similar caution note to that of Nimmo: Gavin is hitting .343 in Vegas, .302 on the road.

Such strong offensive numbers are no guarantee coming out of Vegas, as I recall in 2014 Matt den Dekker having a strong stretch where he hit .420 for Vegas over an extended # of games…but it did not carry over to the big.  But both Nimmo and Cecchini are considerably younger than Dekker was at the time, and both have a far better contact rate.

A few starting pitcher notes before I wrap up:

Harol Gonzalez is 6-2, 1.57 for Brooklyn, remarkable when one considers the Cyclones are threatening to break the NY Penn League batting average low, currently sitting at .213.  Only 4 earned runs in his last 8 starts and more than a K per inning in 2016.  Go, Harol, go.

PJ Conlon did not win his last start, but gave up no earned runs in just under 6 innings of work.  He sits at 11-2, 1.73 over 137 IP, and likely is the Mets' minors pitcher of the year.  ERA just over 1.50 since being promoted to St Lucie a while ago.

Gabe Ynoa shook off a rough stretch of starts for Vegas, and has tossed back to back 8 inning scoreless starts. He sits at 12-5, 3.97 (an excellent ERA for Vegas) and now is an amazing 59-30 in his minor league Mets career over almost 800 IP, and still just 23.  

Rafael Montero - after 8 very strong AA starts, he will be starting for the Mets Monday.  May he experience a major league career renaissance. 



Reese Kaplan -- The Slow Descent to the 2nd Division


Baseball fans are more opinionated than a certain orange haired presidential candidate.  Quite often we’re wrong but sometimes things are obvious to anyone with a scintilla of knowledge of the game yet due to misplaced loyalty the lineup construction and decisions are dictated by past accomplishments, salary and/or veteran status when none of the above are guarantees of success in the present nor in the future.

Right now the club is still operating under the delusion that the post-season is a virtual certainty when they can barely keep their collective heads above .500.  Now no one can put the onus of the collapse on any one thing – not even injuries.  There are a multitude of factors that have gone wrong but the manager has managed to wrest the least of the available resources.  Am I being unfair?  Who has flourished offensively under this regime?  I’ll give you Yoenis Cespedes who appears to be the latter day answer to Reggie Jackson, the straw that stirs the drink.  However, he had a solid reputation before arriving here.  Neil Walker is another one.  He’s likely going to eclipse his season-best mark for the long ball.  After that it gets pretty dismal very quickly.

If you buy into the belief that “You Don’t Gotta Believe” in 2016, then the club should be thinking ahead to 2017 to prepare for some tough personnel decisions ahead of them.  Towards that end a number of changes need to be made in order to ascertain who’s going to be part of the cure and who’s already demonstrated they’re symptomatic of what’s gone wrong.

1st Base
Play Wilmer Flores there day in and day out.  He’s shown solid offensive ability for a few months now, albeit primarily against lefties.  Challenge him to learn to hit righties as well.  He’s not going to learn if he doesn’t have the chance.  On the upside he will provide more power than will James Loney who’s been an adequate warm body in Lucas Duda’s stead, but he’s not part of the solution. 

2nd Base
Start thinking long and hard about whether or not you want to extend Neil Walker.  Arguments can be made either way, but the fact is with Dilson Herrera no longer in the picture, Mr. Walker’s negotiating leverage just skyrocketed.  That development will likely have him eclipsing the contract of potential MVP Daniel Murphy and will draw scorn and ridicule from the media for the Mets’ financial malfeasance. 

Now here’s an interesting dilemma.  You have incumbent Asdrubal Cabrera under contract for a very reasonable $8.5 million salary for 2017.  You have a minimum wage option on Jose Reyes who could provide leadoff capabilities.  You have 1st round draft pick Gavin Cecchini tearing it up offensively in AAA while showing a huge improvement of late with the glove.  What to do, what to do…I predict Cabrera will be on the trading block with the money saved put towards other needs.   For now, keep playing Cabrera but get a peek at Cecchini after September 1st

3rd Base
With David Wright still an unknown commodity the position has belonged to Jose Reyes.  He’s been more good than bad and with the proper amount of time to get back into prime playing condition he’s likely still got something left in the tank.  However, it might behoove the club to see what they really have in TJ Rivera.  He’s hit at every level and is not just a PCL phenomenon a’la Eric Campbell, Josh Satin and others who couldn’t hack it in the big leagues.  Keep Reyes fresh by resting him and also increase his versatility by occasionally spelling Cabrera and Walker. 

Left Field
Leave Yoenis Cespedes in LF.  Yes, he really should play RF given his arm, but in the pecking order of decision making a superstar player outranks the manager (or so sayeth the sage words of Jim Bouton in Ball Four).
Center Field
Promote Michael Conforto on September 1st and thank Curtis Granderson for a job…done.  I’m sorry, but the man is simply not helping the club and despite being saddled with his contract for 2017 there’s no reason to use the September expanded roster period to have future starters sit on the bench.  A solid month of Conforto in CF every day should give you an idea of how he handles the role defensively while simultaneously letting you see if his AAA gaudy numbers are smoke and mirrors or the real thing.  Sorry, Curtis, but you are the weakest link.

Right Field
Jay Bruce may have gone into a hitting coma, but he’s got a relatively inexpensive option for 2017 for a guy close to the top of the league in RBIs.  The Reds let him go for relatively little return, so it’s not likely you could sign and trade him.  He is what he is – Lucas Duda, outfield version (no bad flashbacks intended by that analogy).  I meant with what he can provide with the bat. 

Yes, I want to see Travis d’Arnaud build on what he’s finally started doing of late, but Kevin Plawecki has rebounded very nicely and should usurp the Rene Rivera ABs to see if he can indeed hit at the major league level.  If so, he opens up trade possibilities of either he or d’Arnaud.  Right now he’s a great unknown.

Starting Pitching
After the healthy one-two punch of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob de Grom it gets pretty murky with the recent DL stints by Steven Matz and Jon Niese.  Seth Lugo is a nice story so far but his minor league pedigree isn’t exactly the stuff of Westminster level.  Gabriel Ynoa was somewhat better throughout his journey to the big leagues and at times Robert Gsellman has been downright dominant.  I think it’s time once they acknowledge reality to transition big Bart to the pen and see what they have in these rookie pitchers.  Granted, exposing them could diminish their trade value if they falter but it’s a small sample size either way even if they dominate.  You might even reach down to AA and give Rafael Montero another shot given his spectacular time in Binghamton.  Everyone wants the five potential aces to pitch in the same rotation, but injuries have derailed that plan once again, so it behooves the club to see what they really have in other resources. 

That’s my not so humble opinion on what the club should be doing between now and the end of the year.  What’s your take?




Mack (recently inducted into the Mack's Mets Writers Hall of Fame) wrote at 8 AM today on this website.  Make sure to read his fine article.   In it, he said he'd like to see an outfield of Cespedes, Bruce and Conforto in 2017. 

So would I, so let's talk about Michael (MIKE) Conforto, and a few other guys while I am at it.

MIKE: Vegas tends to inflate hitter stats.  But Mike's numbers smack of much, much more.

1) Since sent down, he is 26 for 50 (.520/.556/.900) - knock 100 points of each - still WOW.

2) In 29 AAA games in 2016, Mike is hitting .423/.480/.748 - WOW.

3) What about hitting lefties? How does 16 for 33 sound?  WOW.

So he struggled in the bigs this year - who doesn't?  Ask Jay Bruce and de Aza.  Pencil young Mike in as a Mets starter in 2017.

SMITTY:  Dominic Smith has had 3 hits in 3 of his last 4 games, raising him to .306/.370.470 in AA, and .370 in July and August with a .570 slug. 

He turned 21 in June, and as a point of comparison, Lucas Duda STARTED his minor league career older than Smith is today.  And slugging Duda did not start hitting homers like Smith's 14 in 500 plate appearances until he was 24.  Smitty, in other words, is coming fast.  88 RBIs, too.

Maybe he is our first baseman of the future starting mid-2017.

PHIL:  Phil Evans has been on fire with 3 or more hits in 6 of his last 10 games.  In 85 AA games, he is hitting .333/.372/.486.  I'm mighty impressed.  .333, by the way, leads the Eastern League.

DAVE:  David Thompson is an RBI machine, with 89 in 107 games.  That would work out to 135 over a full 162 games.  He needs to stay awake when no one is on base, as he is at just .229 with the bags empty in 183 at bats,  But put guys on base, you've got him laser focused, hitting .317 in 215 at bats.   Fans love RBIs.

TOM:  Tomas Nido has quietly caught 83 games in St Lucie.  how does .310/.347/.453 sound?  And he has gunned down 40% of would-be base stealers.  Watch this young guy.

DES:  Only in one game in the past 3 weeks has Desmond Lindsay not been on base, and in 28 games in this injury-shortened season, the 19 year old (now in NY Penn A ball) has performed to a split of .314/.468/.500, and recently hit what was described by a writer as a "mammoth home run."  My favorite kind.  The future looks very bright for Des.

It also, of course, looks bright for hitters Nimmo, Rosario, and Alonso.  But today in my books is MIKE, SMITTY, PHIL, DAVE, TOM, AND DES DAY.


Mack - What To Do


Good morning.

I was talking with Tom Brennan yesterday about a negative comment left on the site that I deleted. It was directed at a guest writer and was quite rude and unprofessional to both the writer and the site.

I’m not online like I use to be and, to be honest with all of you, negative comments on Mack’s Mets have always been around. The difference now is I used to check the site 8-10 times a day and I would delete the bad comments as quick as they posted.

It’s a difficult time to be a Mets fan right now. Nothing seems to be going right at this point in the season and I think it’s more than a coincidence that this bad comment came on the morning after the best Mets pitcher even threw a bad game.

Can the Mets tell their fans that they no longer are going to compete for the 2016 pennant and instead, concentrate on 2017? You can’t do this in ‘New Yawk City”! The newspapers will kill you, the fans will either stay home or turn vicious and you literally could affect the decision of some players whether they would come back next year and play for this team.

In my opinion, 2016 will not be the ‘Year of the Mets’. Washington would have to go into the tank to give the Mets a chance to win the division. Past that, the loser of the battle between the Dodgers and Giants looks to be a lock for one of the wild card teams. The Mets just don’t seem to have enough healthy talent to play the kind of .700+ ball that would be needed here.

    1.     I love the potential of a Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce outfield. Pick up Bruce’s 2017 option

    2.     Sign a new AAA affiliate deal with El Paso so Reese can get press passes

    3.     I love the idea of Wright and Reyes playing one more year together

    4.     Do everything you can to resign Walker

    5.     Find a new catcher and first baseman

    6.     Don’t even think of bringing back Wheeler this season.

    7.     Shut down Matz for the rest of the season.
    8.     Start the internal debating on whether someone needs to start a dialogue with Bartolo’s agent

    9.     DFA Granderson and Niese

   10.  Ask all of you to hang in there for the remainder of the season.




Always good to see good news.  Corey's back.

Corey Oswald, 25-13 career and 4-2 with St Lucie earlier this year, hadn't pitched since mid-June.

He rehabbed with the GCL Mets  today, though, and struck out the side in his first inning of official pitching in 10 weeks.  Can't orchestrate it better than that. Welcome back, Corey.



A Met fan and commentator, Casey Wentworth, forwarded this to us and we thought we'd share it for anyone interested in reading or commenting:

Sometimes I sit reading NY Mets franchise news online and cannot understand something the team has recently just done. Examples? Trading for the often injured Jonathon Niese and bringing him back here as  a NY Met. And by the way Mets fans, Antonio Bastardo is pitching well in Pittsburgh now and says thank you.

I was so utterly delighted when this Mets franchise finally woke up from their Egyptian-like entombment sleep and got rid of both deadwood starters Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee. These two pitchers always let the team down when counted on the most and neither one would ever be a one or two starter anywhere. But every single Mets season here, each one would be counted on to somehow lead the team to the promise land. The problem here being that this promise land was always in a rest stop bathroom just outside of nowhere. And now one has been actually brought back only to find a new injury that he had not found initially as a NY Met. It is ludicrous.

Curtis Granderson, his contract, his age, his "turn-it up switch" that he only uses when in the playoffs or all the stars and moon align just right first. Turn it up switches are for players who do not want to play 110% every game. He has been awful here all season, but now is turning it up to come in over 20 homeruns the way Carlos Beltran always did when here the last one and half months of the season to pad their year's stat sheet. I want Curtis gone at the end of this season, and I do not care if the Mets have to eat his entire stupid contract to do that. He impresses me now almost as much as a moldy old loaf of stale bread sitting in my refrigerator.

This Rugiano right fielder, what do I think. He is 34 years old and probably not as good as Travis Taijeron would be had anyone within the NY Mets organization flexed a brain cell. Taijeron is 7 years younger, lots more homeruns and strikes out even less this Rugiano. Rugiano is 34 years old, Granderson's age. Let them go! (My God)

Old man Walker out hurt for what the fourth time this season? This is what getting younger is really all about. Neil is 30 years old, same as Murph is. For $3.0 million dollars more this franchise could have kept Murph a NY Met and right now they might just be in contention for a wild card. But no. Neil Walker is a decent somewhat solid second baseman.

But at $10.0 million a season? Are you kidding me with that? Bring up Cecchini for second in 2017 here. Vegas has Cecchini on shortstop lately, but short is Jose Reyes in 2017 after the Mets trade Cabrera and his hefty .260 batting average, same as Wilmer Flores.

Wilmer Flores problem is his hip-swivel mechanics. He tends to either hit a homerun using it, or being way the heck out in front of the pitch and little league grounding it to short. His mechanics will never allow him to be a starting big league player, anywhere. It does not work for him. He needs to go back to using the step-into the pitch approach with his lead leg, old school style. TJ Rivera eats Wilmer's lunch totally. Flores should not be re-signed here. Mediocrity seldom wins
championships in any sport.

The NY Mets management need to grow out their logical sequence in their own thought processes. This whole mess (2016 team) can be turned completely around in one off season if done with gusto correctly. But it won't happen if history is the judge here. They will keep all the cheap mediocre players they have here now, add like marginal veteran ones on the down-slide. It will not work.

Terry will leave after the 2017 mediocre season (like this one was0 and GM Alderson will soon be made to follow him. 2016 will become a distant memory, and the team will never get back (under the leadership of these two) to the World Series again until they are both gone.



At the start of the year, we were ready.

Four studs in Harvey, Matz, Jake, and Thor, the always reliable Colon, Wheeler due back before July, Montero the best 7th starter in baseball.

The pen? Awesome...Familla, Reed, Bastardo, Robles, Edgin on the doorstep, Blevins.


How's it looking now?

The early season, #5, Colon, is now #1.

Thor has been alternately awesome and ordinary, slots in at #2.

Seth Lugo had one good start, so he is #3.

Gsellman, with 3 solid innings, is # 4.

Jake was #1 until two recent starts smelling like #2 slid him to #5

Harvey found out he doesn't love ribs.

Matz learned that if you even dare to almost throw a no hitter, you'll end up with, oh, a sore shoulder and elbow.  It's a Mets thing, right, Johan?

Wheeler is afraid to pitch.

Niese came back long enough to get operated on.  The best doctors are in NY...and no, Jon, the Mets are not picking up your option.

Montero got destroyed in AAA, but since has 8 excellent AA starts, but remains in Binghamton. Waiting. Wondering.

Familla and Reed have been great.  We needed them to be perfect, though.

The rest of the pen has had its ups and downs, and they all feel like a first time marathoner at the 25 mile marker, in terms of fatigue.

You can never have enough pitching.  Sewald and Montero are ready to volunteer in a few days.  Ynoa likes the major league pay scale and wants to come back, too, and even Jeff Walters said, " hey, I've pitched swell lately, and my ERA is under 6, so can I come up, too?  I could use the money."





DOM SMITH SURGE by Tom Brennan

Before I start today's article, my last article asked a question: is Rob Gsellman the right choice to call up?

Answer?  Yes, yes, yes, as he bailed gimpy Jon Niese out of a severe mess in a must-win game.

Now, taking a sneak peek at the future, let's gaze upon one Dominic Smith, laboring in AA.

Simply put, Dude is smoking: in August, through Aug. 23, he has in 20 games gone .413/.483/.613.  Whoosh!

After a sluggish pace early in the season that had him sitting at .259 in late June, he has revved the sucker up in July and August - in 45 games, .366 with just 23 Ks but with a solid 22 walks, and 11 doubles, 7 homers and a sweet 34 RBIs, boosting him to 85 in 114 games.

He turns 22 next mid-June - maybe he turns starting major league first baseman about the same time.  Why not?

Let me muse about a few more higher level bat guys:

Phil Evans, as I noted recently, has astonished folks in AA this year - over 83 games, the 23 year old 3B has hit .333/.371/.490, and has a versatile glove that allows him to man SS, 2B and 3B.  He is a chip or a future utility guy, it appears.

 Amed Rosario has cooled of late, after being sidelined for a bit with a hammy.  But the 20 year old slick SS and future star still rocks at .316/.366/.458 for the year.  Would still like to see more homers than the 5 he has hit, but 12 triples offset that deficit.

Looking to AAA, a more likely (if not traded) early season Met in 2017 is Gavin Cecchini.  GC has hit .314 in Vegas this year at SS, with a .382 OBP.    His average and splits are nearly identical to those he put up in 2015 in Binghamton.  His two flaws are a low-side power profile and a proclivity to making errors at SS.  33 errors in 95 games sounds abysmal, but he actually has improved much over his last nearly 40 games, with just 6 errors, so an apparently solidifying defensive game makes him a 2017 Mets candidate.

Brandon Nimmo has proven he can hold his own on a big league field, although his lack of extra base hits while with the Mets for a few weeks is disconcerting.  But Nimmo has had his break out year in Vegas, hitting nearly .375 over his last 70 games.  He still lacks homer thunder, with just 9 in nearly 400 AAA plate appearances, but progress is progress.  .375 over that stretch is major progress. If not traded, he should be a Mets' outfield reserve in 2017.

Michael Conforto - I am convinced we are seeing nothing more than a Soph Jinx.  In Vegas, over 27 games, he is hitting a ridiculous .413/.474/.731.  Hopefully he gives the Mets a surge in September.

So there is near-term hope in several minor league bats, as evidenced above.

Reese Kaplan -- What a Long Strange Trip (to the DL) It’s Been


Opening Day is always full of promise and fresh off their first World Series appearance in more than a dozen years, optimism among Mets fans was riding an all-time high.  Going into the season the club looked impressive indeed.

At 1B you had the 30 HR power of Lucas Duda, a flawed but productive force in the middle of the lineup.

At 2B you had the newly acquired Neil Walker who could provide some power, some defense and rid the club of the contract of disgruntled Jon Niese.

At SS you had the free agent acquisition, Asdrubal Cabrera.  While he’s never quite been able to repeat the All-Star caliber performance from a few years ago, he would solidify the middle infield defense and provide some power.

At 3B you had the Captain, David Wright, perennial All Star and once named the face of major league baseball.

Behind the plate you had Travis d’Arnaud, fresh off a campaign in which he was showing what he was capable of doing with 12 Hrs and 41 RBIs in less than a half season’s worth of Abs.

In LF last year’s top offensive Mets rookie, Michael Conforto, had some drawing wild praise for his potential, some scribes even going as far as to proclaim him the next Bryce Harper.  I was a bit more circumspect, suggesting if he turned into the next Kevin McReynolds the Mets would have a left fielder for the next decade.

In CF was the last minute return of the 2015 team MVP, Yoenis Cespedes.  His presence in the lineup was going to provide the right handed complement to protect Lucas Duda.

In RF you had the rejuvenated Curtis Granderson who quieted nearly all of his critics with a fine 2015 season in which he showed power and on-base abiility.

On the bench you had the surprisingly productive Wilmer Flores, veteran newcomer Alejandro De Aza, Gold Glover Juan Lagares, backup catcher Kevin Plawecki and AAAA hitter Eric Campbell.

In the starting rotation you had the formidable five – Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Noah Syndergaard, Steve Matz and the ageless Bartolo Colon.

In the bullpen you had closer Jeurys Familia backed up by Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, newcomer Antonio Bastardo, Hansel Robles, reclamation project Jim Henderson and  soft tossing Logan Verrett.

Well, the injury and incompetence woes hit the club with a vengeance and it’s almost unfathomable to see what’s become of that promising start.

The Walking Dead

  • Lucas Duda – cracked bones in his back don’t heal overnight, yet the club didn’t make a long term plan until inking journeyman James Loney out of the AAA outpost in El Paso
  • David Wright – perhaps Sandy Alderson’s greatest failing as a GM, it was clear that a Plan B was needed and when Wright’s neck flared shutting him down for the season the Mets were once again left exposed with the likes of Campbell, Kelly Johnson, Ty Kelly, Matt Reynolds and others given a shot at the hot corner until disgraced former All Star Jose Reyes was brought in on the cheap
  • Juan Lagares – As too often happens in Queens, they downplayed an injury into something more severe.  Now it appears he’s gone for the year as well
  • Matt Harvey – anyone could see he wasn’t right, but the club kept trotting him out there again and again, costing them games and who knows what the continued strain did to Harvey’s body
  • Steven Matz – in between some puzzling starts he’s shown flashes of the dominance that had him sail through the system.  However, ongoing issues have shelved him more than once (and now potentially for the year)
  • Zack Wheeler – first expected back in June, now he’s apparently shut down for the year
  • Jim Henderson – a pitcher who spent more time on the DL than in uniform the past few years was a crap shoot at best and he has missed much of the season due to injury
  • Yoenis Cespedes – this one is a shared mistake by the player and the ballclub.  When it was clear Cespedes was hurt, he should have been disabled immediately so he would have the chance to heal.  However, the club was struggling to score runs and he was just about the only major weapon left, so after playing shorthanded for quite some time he finally hit the DL but decided to play golf while rehabbing.  No winners here.

Playing Like Zombies

  • Michael Conforto – After an impressive debut Conforto hit the wall, getting pull happy and struggling around the Mendoza line.  Despite the less-than-stellar performance, the club decided his 11/33/.218 was inferior to De Aza’s 4/13/.192 and sent him to AAA for the second time recently where he’s doing his best Ted Williams impression for the Las Vegas fans
  • Kevin Plawecki – wow, here’s a guy who was given an extended look out of necessity due to the annual Travis d’Arnaud injury last year.  It came out after the fact he had some off-season sinus surgery to repair a condition that left him feeling woozy most of the time.  Apparently breathing better didn’t help much as he was dispatched to AAA for journeyman Rene Rivera from Las Vegas where Plaw has rebounded to hit .307.
  • Eric Campbell – why he’s still on the 40-man roster is a mystery, but like Anthony Recker, Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Jr. and others before him, he’s not likely going to make anyone wistful that he’s gone
  • Alejandro De Aza – the poster child for sunk cost, he probably moped his way through the first part of the season where he went from projected starter to last outfielder off the bench.  Inexplicably the manager keeps trotting him out there but he continues to cost the team with every AB
  • Curtis Granderson – how the mighty have fallen, but he makes too much money for the club to consider other options (such as Michael Conforto).  How he can have 20 homers but only 34 RBIs defies belief
  • Travis d’Arnaud – while not quite as mighty, sandwiched around his annual injury d’Arnaud has been a major disappointment.  He’s been on a tear lately and got his average up to replacement player level but it’s been a puzzling season that has the Mets thinking he may not be the long term answer behind the dish
  • Antonio Bastardo – sometimes good players just can’t hack it when they change address.  That seemed to be the case of Bastardo who was mercifully sent packing in a swap of bad contracts to reacquire Jon Niese 
  • Logan Verrett – I never understood the fascination with this guy and his homer-happy performance FINALLY got them to demote him a few weeks ago.  Why is it that some players can have one bad game and ride the pines for a month while others get way too many chances?
  • Jon Niese – it’s been pretty clear that he’s having the worst season of his entire career.  Fortunately the Mets can simply buy him out for $500K at year’s end

The “Reinforcements”

I hesitate to spend too much time here lest I overdose on antacids.  While other teams legitimately try to improve, the Mets seem content to pick from the scrap heap of other clubs in the hopes of the elusive lightning in a bottle

  • Justin Ruggiano – he’s shown some pop but otherwise has had an undistinguished career worthy of his release earlier this year from the Rangers
  • Jose Reyes – so the plan was to bring him back to play a position he’s never played without sufficient time in the minors to get back into playing shape and risk what little good faith the fans had by paying a domestic abuser to take the field.  What could possibly go wrong?  Expect him back in 2017, though, as he costs almost nothing.  
  • James Loney – more good than bad, but he’s hovering around .265 with no power and no speed.  His defense at 1B has helped wash away memories of some other Dr. Strangegloves they’ve had out there, so there’s that.  Hopefully he’ll parlay his modest success into a new gig elsewhere
  • Erik Goeddel – when healthy, he’s been a productive reliever.
  • Seth Lugo – a little too soon to tell, but with the again ailing Steven Matz on the shelf, he gets the call as the 4th starter
  • TJ Rivera -- the new Wilmer Flores, he's done nothing but hit yet his .352 trial at the big league level had him headed back to AAA because the team had TOO MUCH OFFENSE?
  • Jay Bruce – he went from leading the league in RBIs to people calling for his head in a space of about 3 weeks.  He’s apparently caught whatever it is that afflicts all Mets hitters not named Cespedes

What To Do

This week in St. Louis is kind of a make or break period for the club.  Winning on Tuesday helps, but even a sweep of the Cardinals keeps the Mets out of the post-season.  The cavalry is not coming.  Does the club have what it would take to advance to fall baseball?

IMHO, no it does not.  They are beset by subpar performances, handicapped by bizarre lineup decisions and now their already fragile pitching staff has been Tonya Harding’d.  The question is when will the club accept its fate and start planning for 2017 instead of toying with the notion of the post season?





OK, OK, I know by now you all agree with me that calling up TJ Rivera while Neil Walker becomes Papa Walker is the right choice.  TJ is an assassin with the stick.

But when Steve Matz, like many of us folks, took the final two weeks of August off to rest the aching left shoulder and get some late summer R&R with Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey, was Rob Gsellman the right choice to call up?

Or was Rafael Montero?

Or was Gabe Ynoa?

ANSWER: we'll soon find out.

Rob's got a pretty lousy win-loss record and ERA in 2016, so why him at all? Well, after a nightmare debut in Vegas, he has pitched quite well there in his most recent several starts, striking out almost a man an inning.  As Jake deGrom knows, pitching well and winning can be two different things.

I have not seen Gsellman pitch, but for some reason, the 23 year old reminds me of Ron Darling.  May he be our next Darling.

Montero?  After a stunningly bad stretch in the nightmare for pitchers called Las Vegas ( which is French for "what am I DOING here?"), I suggested strongly that a demotion to Vegas could be Rafael's health spa.  While I have been assured Mets' hierarchy folks do not read this blog, shortly thereafter they did just that.  Rafael has responded in 8 AA starts by going 4-2, 1.70.  Including 7 shutout innings last night.  My gut is I would have promoted Rafael over Rob, but I hope I am wrong.

Ynoa?  He improved to 11-5 last night by tossing 8 shutout innings in Tacoma in typical Ynoa fashion...he struck out just 2, and is averaging 4.5 Ks per 9 this year.  When called up to the Mets recently, he did get manhandled in one of his relief outings, so his not being the choice is understandable.

So the Gsellman Era begins....we'll see if the Mets' choice of him over Raffie and Gabe was the right one soon enough.  Hope so.

What do you think regarding this brief, weakly researched post, folks? Who would you have promoted?  Gotta go...my 20 minutes are up.




Before I get started on today's main topic, two lads are reveling in a month named August:

Michael Conforto is 20 for 35 since his re-demotion (.571/.605/.943)  -  wow.

Phil Evans raised his AA average to .339 by going 32 for 67 this month (.478)

Congrats, gents.

Now to the article:

2014 and 2015 were big years for Mets' minors in terms of wins and losses - I believe in both years, the Mets had the best collective win - loss record of any organization (excluding the DSL).

The Mets unloaded a ton of pitchers and that certainly would have impacted performance this year.   But the 7 teams (AAA thru GCL) are 42 games below .500, pretty poor.  And most of that is due to a lack of hitting, the Met organization's trademark since 1962.

Here goes:


Vegas is always a different animal due to its extreme hitter-friendliness.  The team is 2nd in average (.288), first in runs (734) and second in HRs (127), but is still just 60-69 due to a team ERA of 5.55 and many unearned runs.  

Getting away from hitting frenzied Vegas, a familiar pattern sets in for the teams below AAA - low scoring, and a dearth of homers due to the Mets being an organization that historically puts very little value on the long ball, although its fans love long balls.  It instead drafts contact hitters who don't make enough contact.  

220 homers in 538 contests below AAA - you draw your own conclusions.


Binghamton has sputtered to a 58-68  mark, despite the solid hitting (thanks to Evans, Smith, Rosario and Oberste) is 3rd best at .262.  However, the team has only 62 homers and 521 runs, compared to power-laden Reading (Phils), which has 165 homers and 200 more runs.  103 homers less than the league leading Phils.  Not good.


St Lucie has the Mets' best minors record at 65-57, also hitting .262, but has popped a mere 43 homers compared to the 116 by the league leading team.  A nifty 3.37 ERA has this team"s head above water.


Columbia is 58-68 due to its poor offense - .238 (13th of 14) and 66 HRs (league leader at 99) and 535 runs scored.  A 3.61 ERA (largely courtesy of PJ Conlon) is decent.


Brooklyn hit crappy last year, and is keeping pace in the crap department this year, at just .216 (13th out of 14), only 239 runs, and a mere 23 homers, 5 of which were contributed by Pete Alonso before his season-ending broken finger.  They are at 31-30 mostly due to solid pitching (3,41 team ERA).


Kingsport's Mets are not playing like kings.  Hitting a decent .252, but a mere 19 homers (league-leading team has 55).  They are 19-37 due to a team 4.71 ERA and a ghastly 78 unearned runs, leading them to have allowed the most runs in the league.


The GCL boys have collaborated on compiling 7 team home runs in 47 games, another pathetic mark, even for a league where the leading team has only 28.  They are also hitting a mere .238 and their 175 runs ranks them 15th of 17 teams.  They are 21-26 largely due to a team ERA of 3.61.

Sounding a recurrent Brennan theme of late, Mets ownership, please draft power hitters.  Other teams do, and they don't have to go outside to sign or trade for a bushel of power guys like Cespedes, Bruce, Walker, Cabrera and Grandy to get their power fix at the big league level.


Reese Kaplan -- Is It 2017 Yet? Part 2


Here’s Part 2 of the look ahead to 2017.  Fortunately this side of the equation – pitching – is far rosier than the outlook for the offense. 


Noah Syndergaard pitched at an All Star level in 2016 and the Mets benefit from the fact he’s not even arbitration eligible until 2018.  He will be one of the best bargains in all of MLB. 

Steve Matz has had an up and down season, some of it related to issues that may or may not be resolved surgically in the off-season.  However, his performance exceeds that of Zack Wheeler during his 2014 campaign and he is not arbitration eligible until 2019. 

Although he’s been pitching at an elite level since entering the league, Jacob de Grom earned just over minimum in 2016 and is not arbitration eligible until 2018 either.  The team may be wise to recognize his performance as they did Matt Harvey’s a year earlier.  It would help pave the way into perhaps buying out his free agent years with a contract extension. 

In looking at the contract statuses for the various pitchers I was surprised to find out that Zack Wheeler is arbitration eligible in 2017.  Considering he has not pitched since being shut down in 2014, he’s not likely to get a huge bump in pay, but an increase will most definitely have to be budgeted. 

Perhaps the most vexing of the pitchers from a financial standpoint will be the aforementioned Matt Harvey who earned $4.3 million for his sub par and injury shortened 2016 campaign.  He is arbitration eligible and it seems no matter how poorly someone performs a major salary increase is always a virtual certainty.  I’m thinking he’s end up somewhere in the $6.5 million range. 

In summary, your starting rotation (if it can actually be on the field together at one time) will probably cost somewhere in the vicinity of $14-$15 million.  Considering many individual pitchers earn more than that, the beancounters the Mets employee have to be doing cartwheels.

There are two more pitchers that merit consideration, however, that could quickly turn this bargain basement staff into a much more expensive one.  First comes big Bartolo Colon.  He was an All Star again at age 43 and at times was even more dominant than he’s been during his first two years in a Mets uniform.  This year he’s earning $7.25 million and he’s been worth every penny.  Given the fragile state of health at times this season for every pitcher not named de Grom, it might be prudent to plan on a capable fallback position should injuries happen once again.  Signing him as a long man/spot starter would probably cost about the same money once again. 

The reacquisition of Jon Niese was a classic bad contract for bad contract kind of deal.  The Mets can get out from under it by simply exercising the $500K buyout of his option for 2017.  Keeping him would cost $10 million and I think if you polled the fans, baseball executives or pretty much anyone with a pulse, given the choice of Colon or Niese, well, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Lefty.

Of course, the team in the past has been loath to plan for contingencies, thinking instead that injuries never happen and you can always muddle through with people from the minors.  How did that great Logan Verrett strategy work out fer ya?

There are some other choices who could provide innings in a pinch.  Newcomers Gabriel Ynoa and Seth Lugo both logged much of their careers as starters.  Sean Gilmartin was always a starter until his Rule V success story in the majors last year out of the pen.  Then there’s the reborn Rafael Montero with a 1.99 ERA in AA who might very well never want to set foot in the pitching hell of Las Vegas ever again.  These choices are dice rolls whereas a veteran like Colon is more of a sure thing, but spending for a sure thing is not normally in the Mets’ collective DNA when it comes to planning for what might go wrong. 


Here’s where it’s going to get expensive in 2017.  Closer Jeurys Familia got a huge bump from the minimum wage range to $4.1 million for 2016.  He’s certainly earned it with a record setting saves streak and until very recently almost unhittable stuff.  He’s arbitration eligible and expect a pretty big bump – probably to $7.5 million. 

Next come the minimum wage guys like Hansel Robles and Erik Goeddel, both arbitration eligible in 2018.  You’d have to figure they’re both pretty much locks for a spot in the pen. 
Josh Edgin has only recently made it back to the majors and perhaps as the team falls further out of contention he’ll get more opportunities.  Then again, evaluating talent is something that the Skipper has not quite understood during his tenure.  He sticks to what he thinks he knows, come hell or high water.  The reason he might want to look at Edgin is that he pitched to a sub 2.00 ERA before his injury and he’s just arbitration eligible for the first time in 2017.  Given the small number of innings on his resume, he’s not going to get a big increase.  This fact becomes doubly important when you consider that Jerry Blevins is having an excellent year at a $4 million salary already, but is also a free agent.

The other big money guy to worry about in the pen is 8th inning specialist Addison Reed.  He’s been sensational all year and already earns $5.3 million and is arbitration eligible.  Would the short sighted and usually penny-wise and pound-foolish Mets let him walk?  If not, you’re probably looking at about $6.5 million for a setup guy. 

For awhile the great Jim Henderson experiment seemed to be something of a success, but the arm injuries that derailed his career have once again stopped him from being a productive member of the club.  He’s arbitration eligible but probably wouldn’t warrant much. 

Tom Brennan has been extolling the virtues of a couple of minor league hurlers – Paul Sewald and Josh Smoker.  Both are big strikeout guys are having success in a very difficult environment.  They are options should they decide to let any of the more expensive alternatives walk away. 

Assuming they try to keep the current pen more-or-less intact, you’re looking at a payroll of $22 million not including what you might pay for a guy like Bartolo Colon as insurance.   
Mack's Mets © 2012