8/31/16

Reese Kaplan -- The Empire Strikes Out

9 comments

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.

9 comments:

Thomas Brennan said...

Interesting, Reese. How does the ball carry in El Paso? I see the Chi-wah-wahs are hitting .299 with a league-leading 147 HRs, so I imagine it flies there too.

Any of the Mets' prospects' 3 homers have real carry to them?

How much are tix in El Paso?

We extended on Vegas thru 2018, I just saw.

bob gregory said...

Extending in Vegas without even trying to move to another closer city is just a terrible decision.

I really hope the Met brain - trust put due diligence into the other possibilities.

Which brings up another alarming thought. If the Mets found out the other cities that were possibly opening up this year didn't want the Mets. ...... why not?

bob gregory said...

Extending in Vegas without even trying to move to another closer city is just a terrible decision.

I really hope the Met brain - trust put due diligence into the other possibilities.

Which brings up another alarming thought. If the Mets found out the other cities that were possibly opening up this year didn't want the Mets. ...... why not?

Eddie Corona said...

Bobs so agree with you... Staying in Vegas without attempting to move closer is outrageous ... Hurts the Organization in both levels... I would say they may have a 2 year exit strategy but really would any of us believe that from our FO or ownership

Thomas Brennan said...

Dickerson for El Paso hit .380 in PCL for El Paso, then got called up by San Diego and is hitting .250. Maybe that is the adjustment point - Nimmo hitting .350 in Vegas, subtract 120 points, and he'll hit .220 in the bigs? Conforto hitting .422 - subtract .130 points and he'll hit .294?

den Dekker hit .334 in Vegas in 2014, .225 in east coast AAA this year and last.

In other words, seems to be little way to project hitter success.

Lugo, Montero, Gsellman hit hard in Vegas, successful in the bigs. Hard to predict pitcher success for Vegas pitchers, too.

Reese Kaplan said...

The ball does indeed fly out of Southwest University Park (the Chihuahuas' stadium). Nimmo's shot was just barely over the fence. There were a few good warning track balls that seemed to be hit with more authority. Conforto's was a no-brainer. Tix in El Paso are cheap. The Fiesta Patio area where our group sat is on the field level between 1B and RF. The tickets themselves are $12. I paid about that for a seat directly behind home plate for one of the other 51s games last year.

Thomas Brennan said...

Nice. Thanks, Reese

Thomas Brennan said...

One more question, Reese...Cecchini had a few hits. He seems a bit low on extra base hits, so I was curious if he drove any balls with authority.

Reese Kaplan said...

He seems more a pesky hitter in the mold of Wally Backman than a power/line drive threat.

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