6/30/16

Reese Kaplan – Inmates Still Running The Asylum

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The Mets made a roster move today which was to be expected.  With Logan Verrett having started and Sean Gilmartin having turned in two clinkers in a row, one of them had to go.  That much is understood and smart baseball.

What’s not necessarily smart is the choice they made in promoting right hander Seth Lugo from AAA Las Vegas.  What did he do to earn this trip to the majors?  Well, his record was a mediocre 3-4.  That can’t be it.  His ERA is a Pelfreyesque 6.55.  That can’t be it either.  Maybe he’s adept at keeping people off base.  Nah, a 1.625 WHIP suggests just the opposite.  What then warrants his promotion?

Ah, he’s on the 40-man roster!  Swapping Gilmartin with Lugo required no creative machinations.  However, was he the best choice among possibilities?

Remember Josh Edgin?  Yes, he’s also got a somewhat ugly WHIP but he’s also sporting a 1-0 record with a 2.25 ERA.  That suggests he’s been adept at getting out of jams when he creates them (unlike Lugo).  You lose a lefty in Gilmartin.  Why not replace him with a lefty in Edgin?

If you want to get this year’s version of the all-or-nothing reliever, Josh Smoker is fanning 13.2 batters per 9 IP.  His ERA is almost a full run lower than Lugo’s at an unsightly 5.77.  Yet he was bypassed in favor of the 27 year old Lugo.

Then there are the starters who are having a variety of successes and failures such as the 9-3 Gabriel Ynoa, old starter/reliever Rafael Montero or the recently promoted Robert Gsellman who pitched to a 2.71 ERA in AA before his trip to Vegas.  Any of these options would seem to be preferable to the Lugo selection, though options (in Montero’s case) and service time considerations (in Ynoa’s and Gsellman’s cases) must be considered.

Of course, were the Mets to use the 40-man roster properly by releasing Alejandro De Aza, Ty Kelly or transferring David Wright and Lucas Duda to the 60-day DL would open up spots with superior talent.  For example, 24 year old lefty David Roseboom in AA has a 2.86 ERA with batters hitting a paltry .210 against him.  How much worse could he be than Lugo?  What about Luis Mateo, already 26 years old and pitching to a 2.50 ERA (2.53 for his minor league career)?

It seems that the Mets constantly make these roster moves of greatest convenience, least resistance or economic consideration.  Putting the best team on the field continues to be a distance priority.  Don’t get me wrong.  I wish Lugo well.  I hope he breathes a huge sigh of relief in escaping the Pacific Coast League and pitches like Pedro Feliciano did in his heyday.  I’m just not banking on it. 


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I WANT A DO OVER!! BY Tom Brennan

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I WANT A DO OVER!! BY Tom Brennan

Remember when you were a kid and were playing outside and you used to have “do overs”?

Well, I want a do over: I want Daniel Murphy back.

Last year, I wrote repeatedly in the fall to re-sign Murph, trade Duda, put Murph at first base. 
Why? Better and much more consistent hitter and one who had finally tapped into his power game.  One who, when (not if) David Wright went down for a months-long injury, could step right in at third base.

Ownership was stupid, plain and simple – enamored with saving a few mill in 2016, and getting a draft pick, when Duda (57 homers in 2014 and 2015) could have gotten us nice prospects from some team.

Everyone chose to ignore the evidence: Murphy’s new hitting prowess.

In August and September and the playoffs (against severely excellent pitchers), Murphy had 257 at bats, hit .303, with 21 doubles, 2 triples, 15 homers, and 48 RBIs.  I tried to convince people he was a new Murph, new and improved. 
My friends all agreed.  The Wilpons and Sandy did not, sadly.

Duda in 2016, pre-injury, was the same old inconsistent guy who’d not hit well in the clutch, frustrate you watching him take pitches, and hit occasional long homers. Whoopee.

Murphy in 2016?
Hitting .352, 38 XBHs in 293 at bats in 76 games, MVP candidate. 
But notice: his stats are remarkably similar to those from August through the last game of the WS in 2015. 

So, for the heck of it, let's combine those 2015 and 2016 #’s: 550 at bats (less than a full season), 41 doubles, 6 triples, 29 homers, 101 RBIs, .330. 
And the fans deliriously chant DE AZA, DE AZA.  Just have to double de Aza's .165 average and you get (yes) Daniel Murphy's .330.  Easy breezy.

Oh, I know - $30 million a year over 6 years was a lot to pay a guy like Murphy.  Wait….What?  He only cost $37.5 million for 3 years??

AND THE METS SAID NO???????

And, of course, to compound the fracture, he goes not to the AL, not to the Western Division, but to our division rivals. 
We keep him, we’re back in the World Series.  We don’t?  The Nats may get there. 
All we can hope for, Mr. Wilpon might say , is meaningful post-July 4 BB.

I want a do over.  Don’t you?
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6/29/16

WHAT'S WRONG WITH HARVEY!!!! by Tom Brennan

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WHAT'S WRONG WITH HARVEY!!!! by Tom Brennan

What the heck is wrong with that Matt Harvey? 

Met fans' myopia, is all.  Because....

NOTHING is wrong with Matt Harvey.

We as run-starved Mets fans expect Matt to perform miracles, but a full analysis causes one to consider all factors. 

The overriding Matt Harvey problem since he turned pro?  He did not force his reluctant teammates to hit for him.  It's all Matt's fault for not forcing them to score more for him.

I looked back at his career: any guy who has a career 2.88 ERA over 81 starts should have a fine career record, not 29-28.  Wins in just 29 of his 81 career starts, only 36%! 

Darn, what is WRONG with this guy?

Let me repeat: NOTHING.

In those 28 career losses, 36% of his starts, they have scored a dismal 48 runs.  JUST 48 RUNS!!!!  JUST 1.7 RUNS PER GAME.

In those 24 career no-decisions, 30% of his starts, they have scored a nearly-as-dismal 69 runs.  JUST 2.9 RUNS PER GAME.  And in 3 of those games, they scored 21 runs, so in the other 21 NDs, just 2.3 runs per game.

In the unbelievable 64% of games that he either lost or had an ND, a gosh-awful 117 runs in 52 games, or 2.25 runs per game.

So, let me repeat again...what is wrong with Matt Harvey?  The stinking team he has played for, that's what.

Yeah, Tom, but what about 2016?  What about this team ever picking HIM up, rather than the other way around?  Matt struggled early in 2016 for sure, but in his last 6 starts, he has surrendered just 9 runs, which is superlative, and yet is 1-3 in that stretch!!!

Tom Seaver went through the same crap before he went to Cincy.  Despite some ERA slippage in Cincy (he clearly was starting to slide, as one has to factor in that he now had the HUGE benefit of pitching against awfully puny Mets hitters), he had a year where he went 14-2 and one where he went 14-3 with the Reds.

My advice to Matt?  If it is up to you, unless this historically awful offensive team puts in REAL fixes, and commits to fielding a team that scores in the top third of all teams in baseball instead of the bottom 5, leave when you can.  As fast as you can.

Become the winning pitcher we all know you ought to be.


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Reese Kaplan -- An Almost Mid Season Report Card

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With 75 games under their belts already the Mets head into the 2nd game against the division leading Washington Nationals on Tuesday night in third place, trailing the somewhat surprising Florida Marlins by a half game.  Despite the lackluster results, there have been a number of good things that have happened from the Mets thus far this year:

  • Noah Syndergaard has turned it up a notch
  • Jeurys Familia has set a new club record for consecutive saves
  • Bartolo Colon has shown he’s still got the ability to get hitters out with ease
  • When healthy, the rest of the starting pitchers have turned in some brilliant performances
  • James Loney providing near .300 hitting after getting rescued from my hometown of El Paso
  • The new keystone combo have been as everything Sandy Alderson could have hoped
  • Yoenis Cespedes is on his way to an MVP type of season


Unfortunately the list of the bad is quite a bit longer:

  • David Wright’s career perhaps over
  • Lucas Duda out for months with a stress fracture in his back
  • Travis “DL” d’Arnaud having missed most of the season thus far
  • Zach Wheeler, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard having elbow issues
  • Juan Lagares is also out with a thumb ligament injury
  • Matt Harvey pitching more like The Joker than the Dark Knight of Gotham
  • Antonio Bastardo looking like Oliver Perez
  • Alejandro De Aza making fans long for the offensive prowess of John Mayberry, Jr.
  • Michael Conforto demonstrating that skipping AAA might not have been prudent
  • Logan Verrett demonstrating why he was DFA’d by the Mets once already
  • Kevin Plawecki seemingly haven forgotten how to play this game
  • Curtis Granderson looking like the 2014 version rather than the 2015 version
  • Terry Collins now adding an inability to deal with the media to his dubious resume
  • Thus far the front office only able to get bench pieces and not a big bat
  • All or nothing offense – 5th in HRs but 13th in RBIs and 14th in AVG.  

It's beginning to look like the club is not going to hit the post-season without some major changes. Yulieski Gourriel could potentially be a help in both batting average and run production while filling in at David Wright's former home at 3B.  Since he's available for money and no scant resources which would have be sacrificed in a trade, it may very well be a risk the Mets need to take since he alone is not enough to propel them back into contention.  It may take some package of Gavin Cecchini, Dominic Smith or Wuilmer Becerra to land another quality hitter to play either 1B or one of the corner outfield positions.  Of course, making that kind of trade would require benching unproductive players (in the case of Curtis Granderson) or a productive but not run producing players like James Loney.  The Mets are not the courageous types that seem ready to do either with salary dictating Granderson's playing time and media backlash that would result from sitting a guy hitting .298.  The fact remains that the club is in dire need of another Yoenis Cespedes type of bat and pretty much anyone of the field should be prepared to sit if one can be acquired.  

My grade thus far overall for the club is C+ -- slightly above average, mostly due to pitching. 


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6/28/16

Yunel Freakin' Escobar?

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So the Mets have suddenly done a 180 on character...first it was Marlon Byrd, then came Bartolo Colon, next was the reunion with Jose Reyes and now they're considering the acquisition of Yunel Escobar to help their beleaguered offense.

For those of you who do not remember, Escobar has not been exactly beloved in any of his five MLB clubhouses and was suspended in Toronto for putting the word, "Maricon" in his eye black prior to taking the field.  For those of you who do not speak Spanish, the rough English equivalent is "faggot".

Now Escobar maintains that he was using it in the same way someone might use the word "retarded" to describe something less-than-brilliant, rather than its exact meaning as mental deficiency.  In other words, he meant no harm.

While ballplayers have all said/done things they regret, it's not the first time this issue has arisen.  In fact, Noah Syndergaard got called onto the carpet when in the minors for using the word "fag" in a Twitter conversation with a friend as a put-down of sorts.

So assuming we can forget the character issues (as the Mets apparently have), let's look at Escobar from a purely baseball standpoint.  He's a good hitter.  This year his power is down a bit with just 3 HRs and 20 RBIs but he's hitting .310 which is above his career mark of .282.  His defense has been in steady decline for years and he's considered something of a liability wherever you play him.  He's earning $7 million with an option for 2017 at the same salary with a $1 million buyout.  The deal has the Washington Nationals paying $1.5 million of his 2016 salary which would carry over should the Mets go ahead and acquire him from the Halos of Anaheim (or whatever they're calling themselves this week).  A pro-rated $5.5 million would make for a better bench option than Alejandro De Aza, for sure, but he's a sunk cost.

Could he help?  Sure...in a James Loney kind of way, he's a high average/low-power type of hitter. The problem is that the club is without potentially 60 HRs between Lucas Duda and David Wright, so I'm not sure this solution is the right one.  

Furthermore, acquisition of Escobar would either make him a rather expensive bench piece in the supersub role (able to man 2B, SS and 3B all poorly), or would push Wilmer Flores into that position. All Flores has done since becoming a regular in June is hit .319.  And he earns close to minimum wage.

If it's my money, instead of sacrificing scant resources in minor league trade chips to acquire someone who would be a nice-to-have but not a -- to use Sandy Alderson's terminology -- difference maker, I'd sooner see them simply spend money and push hard for the Cuban free agent Yuliesky Gourriel who is available to the highest bidder come Saturday.  Then you could have the minimum wage Wilmer Flores as a supersub or platoon partner for Loney at 1B.

-- RK
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PASS THE CHIPS

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PASS THE CHIPS by Tom Brennan

Elbow joints, always the elbow joints.

Jake deGrom and Matt Harvey used to have messed up elbows, now they only have messed up minds due to lack of run support.

Steve Matz has an elbow chip - will it be surgery or grin and bear it until year end?

Thor has a barking elbow joint.  A lighter Uru Hammer might help.

Zach Wheeler went from a messed up elbow joint to a nerve-pained elbow joint, and is now back soft tossing.  Hopefully, the joint will respond to Advil and he will finally be back here within 4 weeks.

Josh Edgin's elbow joint seems to be rehabilitated, but his ticket to Queens has not been issued by the ticket joint.

If the team was in Colorado, I guess one option might be to light up medicinal joints to keep Bill Clinton from telling our guys "I feel your pain."

The Mets appear to be about to face a stud whose elbow joint they were too skittish to gamble on at draft time, Lucas Giolito.  He will be a real pain in the .... to Mets' fans in the years to come.

Michael Fulmer's elbow joint must be fine - 3 earned runs in 44 innings over his last 7 starts.  If he stayed in NY, he'd probably have an inflamed elbow by now.  instead, he'll be an All Star in the AL.

Lastly, Yankee fans I know also have sore elbows - from elbowing me while they laugh about the Mets' sputtering chances at a return to post-season.   My elbow's fine, but my ribs are sore.  Ease up, fellas.

A typical Mets rollercoaster season - keep your elbows tucked in on those turns, folks.
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6/27/16

Mets News -- Some Dire, Some Good

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Let's have the bad news first.  Steven Matz has been diagnosed with a bone spur in his pitching elbow which the club has acknowledged already may require surgery.  If so, what is the course of action?

I'd go with Sean Gilmartin (lefty replacing lefty) to tide them over until Zack Wheeler is deemed ready.

Even if it's a matter of a relatively short DL stint, you still need a plan.  Just don't make it Logan Verrett.



On the more positive note, Yulieski Gourriel posed in some Instagram photos today in Mets gear.  I don't know if he did the same when he worked out for the Dodgers, but I'll take whatever encouraging signs I can get.

-- RK
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WHY JOSE? by Tom Brennan

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WHY JOSE?  by Tom Brennan

I am excited Jose Reyes is coming back.  If everyone's dirty laundry in life came into full, unfettered view, boy oh boy would the hypocrites be scurrying for cover.  It goes back to Adam and Eve, when they did the wrong thing and were scrambling for fig leaves to cover up their nature suits.

Jose Reyes deserves a second chance.  To use another biblical reference, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  He is repentant, his wife could have left with millions but stayed.  I'm OK with Jose.

But - Why Jose Reyes?

Simply, the Mets are 28th in scoring and 29th in batting average - AFTER HITTING .255 IN THEIR FIRST 22 GAMES SPANNING APRIL, IN WHICH THEY AVERAGED 4.9 RPG.

Since then, 52 games, 3.1 RPG and a rip-roaring .222 average.   Which has to be the worst in terms of average and scoring over that span by far.   As a fan, I am befuddled how often this team over the years goes into a prolonged hitting abyss that is something experienced to that degree by no more than 2 or 3 other teams.

And, recall that the Met hitters' plight would be far worse if they had to face METS' PITCHING!!

I believe Jose will be the spark to get this excruciatingly boring, moribund hitting squad going.  Thank heavens he is back. 

So:

Get Conforto back in gear, and back here ASAP. 

Exile de Aza. 

If still sputtering, definitely sign Gourriel. 

BUT STOP TORTURING THE PITCHERS - HIT!!!

If Harvey pitched for the Bosox, he'd probably be a 10 game winner and no one would be worried about him.  HIT for these guys. Come on!
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6/26/16

Mack’s Sunday Draft Report – 6-26-16

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Good morning.

Some signings and non-signings –

          The Mets signed 1st round pick, P Justin Dunn, and 3rd round pick, 3B Blake Tiberi. Both have reported to Brooklyn. 

          Well, you can forget the effect on an PED testing when it came to St. Louis Cardinals first round pick, SS Deven Perez. He did fall from a projected top 5 pick to the Cards 23rd pick which lowered his signing bonus to a mere $2,222,500. How do you say ‘poor baby’ in Spanish

UK baseball signee, OF Jaren Shelby, decided to turn down his commitment to Kentucky and announced that he would instead attend the JUCO State College of Florida next season. Not surprisingly, he was undrafted in the 2016 draft. Shelby was a Florida all-State player who hit .378 with 12 home runs Tates Creek (FL) HS.

LHP Kyle Miller (44th player drafted overall) has signed with the Atlanta Braves ($1.4M), per Jim Callis. He will spend the summer with the Braves summer league

The Philadelphia Phillies signed the overall first pick in the draft, Mickey Moniak, which included a $6.1mil bonus, far below the $9.015mil allotted to that slot. Look for the unused money to be used to sign their second round pick, pitcher Kevin Gowdy.


As for the continued look at the results of the Mets 2016 draft –
Frankly, I only see four possible future major leaguers in the Mets draft, two of which (Matt Cleveland and Carlos Cortez) will probably not sigh and attend college.
The other two (Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay) are featured here –
Having only two draftees make it someday to your 25-man squad is not a bad average folks. Times That by 10 years and you have 20 major leaguers on your staff. Now, all you have to do is fill the staff in with five free agents or international signees.
I found the Mets urgency to draft college players here puzzling, especially since all the players they have signed so far have been assigned to rookie teams. Aren’t these players already in their 20s?
One more thing… there is a lot of helium in this Mets drafts. Speed, not control, seems to have been the criteria to be drafted as a Mets pitcher here and I guess the front office is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle… or, at least, another Jacob deGrom.
Lastly the Mets signed the 280th pick in the draft, RHP Colin Holderman. The interesting part is the slot money was $163,700 for Holderman, but the Mets will pay him a bonus of $400.000.

Draft Pick –

1.     1st round – 19th pick overall – RHP Justin Dunn
11th on Mack’s Top RHPs in draft
23rd in Mack’s top 134 plyers to be chosen in draft

                   Currently Unsigned

BA: #25 - In 2015, Chris Shaw became the fifth first-rounder drafted out of Boston College. This year, Dunn could be the sixth. The athletic righthander began the season pitching out of the bullpen, but his lightning quick arm and promising offspeed pitches forced him into the Eagles' rotation. Dunn is slight in stature, with some scouts questioning his listed 6-foot-2, 184-pound frame. While he is short physically, his stuff isn’t. He pitches consistently at 92-95 and touching as high as 97 at times with his fastball. His best secondary pitch is his slider, thrown with tight spin, vertical shape and mid-80s velocity. He throws a curveball that has similar shape to his slider, but breaks more loosely and grades out as a below-average pitch, though its presence can disrupt hitters' timing. Dunn has shown feel for a changeup at times, showing the ability to locate the pitch at hitters' knees. His performance as a starter has encouraged teams that he can start long term, as he has held velocity well deep into his outings.
          
Keith Law

Justin Dunn was one of the brightest spots in college baseball this spring, a highly athletic right-hander who hit 99 mph in the bullpen before moving to Boston College's rotation, where he was 93-96 mph with a solid-average slider that will probably end up as some sort of ungodly wipeout pitch now that he's joining the Mets.
        
  6-12 – BC eliminated from College World Series
          From Scout.com after playoff –

The Mets led off with one of my favorite players, Justin Dunn, who slid to 19. I think he could help a team out of the bullpen this year, then be stretched out as a starter for the future. If he had been starting all year, I think there is a very good chance he would have been a top-10 pick.

Mack – Look for Mets to sign him by the end of June, send him to St, Lucie to learn all about the back end of the bullpen and get ready to see this guy in Queens in September


My other prediction to someday become a major leaguer is first round pick,     P Anthony Kay (    7th on Mack’s Top LHP in 2016 draft and 42nd on Mack’s top 134 players in 2016 draft).

          MLB #43
School: Connecticut Year: Junior Position: LHP Age: 21 DOB: 3/21/1995 Bats: L Throws: L Height: 5' 11" Weight: 186 lb.
Previously Drafted: 2013, 29th (866) - NYM
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50

The University of Connecticut has produced some excellent pro talent, headlined by George Springer, Nick Ahmed and Matt Barnes. Kay, the Huskies' Friday night starter, could be the next in line.

Kay fits the mold of the advanced pitchability college lefty, one with a track record of success, not only at UConn, but also in the Cape Cod League in 2014 and with Team USA in 2015. Kay succeeds by filling the strike zone and keeping hitters guessing, albeit with the lack of a true out pitch. He'll top out at 94-95 mph with his fastball, though he pitches more effectively at around 91 mph. He has a consistently reliable changeup, though he telegraphs it at times by lowering his arm slot. His breaking ball is fringy.

College performers like Kay tend to do well on Draft day. He could be seen as a poor man's Mark Buehrle type, one who could perhaps add a cutter at the next level to give him a four-pitch mix, helping him to be a quick to the big leagues back-end starter.

Baseball America: #35 –

A 29th round pick of the Mets out of high school, Kay was one of three promising Long Island prep arms, with Stephen Woods and Matt Vogel also showing promise. All three chose to go to college, and Kay has emerged as the best of the group. The ace of UConn's staff, Kay throws three pitches for strikes. His fastball works in the low 90s and touches 95 early in his starts. Scouts see his changeup is an above-average or plus pitch; it shows both fade and tumble and generates swings and misses from righthanded hitters regularly. Kay has a tendency to throw his changeup from a slightly lower arm slot, giving scouts concerns that elite hitters will be able to see the pitch coming. He throws a breaking ball with slurvy shape. Kay usually throws the pitch against righthanded hitters, and has not thrown it with conviction this spring. Kay is on the shorter side, standing at 6-foot, but he has a wide, sturdy build.

Keith Law - #28:

Kay has perhaps the best changeup in the entire draft, an 82-86 mph dying rock that ghosts away from right-handed hitters. It's got easy plus projection in a vacuum, though Kay shows some arm slot variation on the changeup that might suppress the pitch's effectiveness at the upper levels of pro ball.

Kay's fastball has been into the mid-90s for starts at a time, topping out at 95, and has been around 90-95 all year, even in frigid temperatures. There's more plane on the heater than one might expect from a 6-foot pitcher, a product of Kay's high three-quarter arm slot.

The curveball is blunt and loopy, a below-average offering that flashes fringe average and projects as a 45 or 50 at maturity.
While a low-to-mid 90s fastball and plus changeup are a terrific foundation for any pitching prospect, Kay will have to progress in more areas than are typical for a college arm. The curveball will have to progress; otherwise, Kay will have to add a fourth pitch so that he has enough viable weapons to negotiate through a pro lineup several times. Some scouts think a cutter would suit him.

Other concerns include Kay's size, which, when he leaves pitches up, causes his fastball to flatten out and might cause him to be homer prone. And nobody is totally sure that his changeup will play at plus because of the arm slot variation that could tip big league hitters. But Kay has performed this year while many of his peers have not and he has been trending in the right direction all spring. He could be
selected in the late-first round, where other college changeup artists have found homes in recent years.

Mack – A potential back end starter with the potential of a Logan Verrett or Sean Gilmartin. My disappointment was that I felt there were better names still on the board (RHP Dakota Hudson, LHP Joey Wentz) when the Mets called out for Kay.

I like him… I’m just not in love with the pick and I feel he could have still been around when we picked in the second round.
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6/25/16

QUIET EXCELLENCE: GABE YNOA

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QUIET EXCELLENCE - GABE YNOA by Tom Brennan


Some guys like Noah Syndergaard have SIZZLE, firing pitches with searing velocity.  Hard to ignore - a must to watch.  The blonde locks don't hurt.


Other guys who drive in slower lanes are quietly efficient - like Gabe Ynoa.  In what is anything but a pitchers' league,the PCL, Gabe has quietly compiled an All Star quality 9-2, 3.40 mark after 15 starts spanning 95 IP. 


And the ERA is a bit misleading...in his 3 weakest starts, he allowed 19 earned runs in 17 innings.  In his other 12 starts, he has compiled a stellar ERA of 1.96, which is probably about 3 runs per game lower than league average. Clearly, he has to be doing a lot right.


(In the interests of full disclosure, he hasn't had to pitch against his lethal hitting Las Vegas 51 teammates, which has to help.)


Gabe is a 23 year old righty who started out in the DSL in 2010 and has compiled an impressive 56-27 career record (.675 W/L %).  Just 122 walks in 722 career innings too.


He pitches to contact, with just 49 Ks in his 95 innings in 2016, and about 5 Ks per 9 innings in 2015 and 2016. 


All in all, and given the state of the Mets' pitching staff, one would think he is upcoming trade bait, or will be a 6th starter on this team next year.


All in all, though, he has left an awful lot of fellow minor league pitching teammates in the dust and is knocking on the major league door. 


The question is, in which town will that be?
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Reese Kaplan -- When Sandy Gets It Right

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While most of us are wringing our hands in angst of the Mets’ cumulative lack of offense and the snake bitten characterization of their overall team health, I thought it was time to throw a few kudos in the direction of General Manager Sandy Alderson.  He made a major change up the middle during the off season necessitated by the departure of Daniel Murphy and the apparently unacceptable defense of Wilmer Flores. 

Trading multiple years of Jon Niese for one year of Neil Walker was good business as it allowed Dilson Herrera another year to develop in the minors, will net the Mets another supplemental draft pick should Walker depart at year’s end, and cost only about $1.5 million in salary differential between he and Niese.  With Daniel Murphy’s departure, there’s another $8 million in salary relief plus the supplemental pick they received when he turned down the QO and signed elsewhere.  Look at what he’s provided  -- .266/14/30.  Compare that to the man he replaced last year.  Through 66 games in a Mets uniform last year Daniel Murphy provided  .277/5/30.  That’s pretty much a push.  What Murphy has done for the Nationals is not necessarily what he would have done here – whether it’s a new hitting coach or a desire to prove he’s worth what he’s being paid, he never performed at this level for the Mets.  Get that out of your heads. 

The more head scratching move was inking Asdrubal Cabrera to a two-year $16.5 million contract.  He has an optional third year at a slight bump in pay to $8.5 million or a $2 million buyout.  With the 16 HRs/59 RBIs Flores provided in a part-time role last year, it appeared that the offensive side of Cabrera’s game made him an expensive addition to replicate the same numbers.  Aside from his outlier year of 2011 during which he nailed 25 HRs and drove in 92, he’s provided around 16/60 each season as a full time player.  Furthermore, his defensive numbers were in such decline that they were actually inferior to those of Flores.

However, call it work ethic or whatever, Cabrera has been rock solid at shortstop with the glove, the arm and in positioning himself for double plays and stolen bases.  Offensively he’s on track for his second best year ever, with his current numbers extrapolating out to an annual aggregate of 18 HRs and 54 RBI.  The 18 HRs would represent the most he’s hit since 2011 and would approach the Mets club record of 19 set by former (and perhaps future) Met Jose Reyes in 2008. 

Had David Wright and Lucas Duda stayed healthy, then these offensive exploits would have been a step forward from what the team had a year ago and the defense up the middle would have improved as well.  It further would have strengthened the bench with Wilmer Flores providing his supersub role.  However, as they say, man plans and God laughs.  So the team is once again struggling to find offense.  

At the time most were very happy with the Walker deal.  The Cabrera signing was a little more puzzling.  Now, however, I think everyone should tip their chapeau in the direction of Sandy Alderson for having made some good deals that may reap benefits in the future whether Walker stays or if he nets the team another supplemental pick.  
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6/24/16

NIMMO AND CONFORTO by Tom Brennan

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NIMMO AND CONFORTO by Tom Brennan


Just a short question to bandy about - should the Mets temporarily send Michael Conforto down and bring Brandon Nimmo up?


I love Conforto - a keeper and future star - but he is a bit banged up and has hit a wall.  He is 21 for his last 140 in May and June (.150), with a .215 OBP after a dazzling April start.  His lack of hitting has really hurt the Mets since their 20-11 start.


Nimmo, conversely, got off to a powerless 10 for 55 start, but is a tremendous 71 for 190 (.374) since, with a robust 26 extra base hits over that stretch in hitting-super-friendly AAA.


I would send Conforto down, reluctantly, and let him heal a bit and get revived by joining the AAA hitting party (Vegas is hitting over .300 since the slow first few weeks of the season - nice to surround him with homewreckers).  It should take pressure off, get him restarted, be short-term, and get him back here as a starting OF to face the best pitchers in baseball once again.


Nimmo deserves a chance.  He can't hit worse than .150 over 140 at bats with the Mets, certainly.  I would only not try this if management wanted to not expose him at the major league level prior to a July trade.


If that is the case, Ty Kelly, hitting right where he left off in Vegas before his failed cameo with the Mets, is available.


But I would try strikeout machine power ball Travis Taijeron instead.  Travis, in friendly Vegas, is hitting .310 with an amazing 29 doubles and 12 homers in about 70 games with 64 RBIs (not a typo).  Maybe Travis comes in and bangs some extra base hits for the Mets (he has averaged an XBH every 8 ABs in minor league career). 


But take the pressure off Michael Conforto - no shame to a breather in AAA.  He will be a star.  It is okay.


What does everyone think?
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6/23/16

Reese Kaplan -- Reyes Reunion as Soon as Saturday

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Today the Rockies placed release waivers on embattled shortstop Jose Reyes.  It signaled that no one was interested in taking on both his baggage and his contract.  On Saturday he becomes a free agent, available for major league minimum pro-rated for the 70 games already played.  That means he'd cost the Mets the same as they're paying Rene Rivera and Matt Reynolds.  That's a bargain in anyone's book.  The question is whether or not the squeaky clean image protectors will allow it to happen?  Then again they did give Marlon Byrd, Bartolo Colon and others chances...but they dispatched K-Rod for the proverbial bag of balls once his anger management issues embarrassed the club.  Still, the reaction to Jose Reyes taking the field would be one of cheers greatly drowning out the jeers, so I think it's a fait accompli.  After all, committing to Yuliesky Gourriel or making a trade takes real money and guts, things that are usually in short supply in Queens.
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KINGSPORT METS ROSTER

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KINGSPORT METS ROSTER
 
A ROSTER LISTING AND A VERY INFORMATIVE ARTICLE ABOUT THE TEAM, written by Steve Wilmoth of TriCitiesSports.com:

Rivera impressed with K-Mets’ collection of arms

STEVE WILMOTH TriCitiesSports.com 

KINGSPORT — One glance at the vitals of the 2016 Kingsport Mets pitching staff and one might surmise the roster belongs to a team in NBA Developmental League instead of the Appalachian League.

  “If we end up in a basketball game, we should be in really good shape,” said K-Mets General Manager Brian Paupeck. “We could go all 6-5 in the backcourt and 6-6 and 6-9 in the frontcourt.”

Thus far, manager Luis Rivera is more impressed with the pitches produced by those arms rather than the length of them. Three pitchers spent all or part of the 2015 season in Kingsport, and five were top 10 picks from the last two major league drafts.

“I think we have a good pitching staff with some good arms,” said Rivera. “We have pretty good pitching this year from college from the draft along with some experienced guys.”

Left-hander Thomas Szapucki is expected to be the opening night starter Thursday night against Elizabethton. The Palm Beach Garden, Florida, native was a fifth-round draft pick in 2015.

 “Szapucki can touch 97, sits in the mid-90s,” added Rivera. “His secondary pitches are really good, too. He needs to continue to learn controlling the game with his command.”

 Also on staff from the 2015 draft is Max Wotell, a third-round pick out of Marvin Ridge, North Carolina. Wotell fashioned a 2.53 ERA in nine appearances in the Gulf Coast League last season.

Three 2016 top 10 draft picks have been assigned to Kingsport, including sixth-rounder Chris Viall, eighth-round selection Placido Torres and ninth-round pick Colin Holderman.

 Viall is a 6-9 right-hander out of Stanford who worked both as a starter and reliever this past season for the Cardinal.

 “Chris also throws pretty hard, 93-96, up to 99,” noted Rivera. “He’s a strong guy. We’ll get him ready, and when he’s ready, he’ll pitch.”

 Torres is by far the most intriguing member of the roster, having pitched collegiately at nearby Tusculum College. The left-hander went 11-0 with an 0.70 ERA for the Pioneers and was selected as the NCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year. No NCAA pitcher at any of the three divisions struck out more hitters than Torres’ 162 whiffs.

 “Placido is a very good athlete, aggressive on the mound,” Rivera said. “He throws in the low 90s with a good curve and slider.”

 Holderman comes from Heartland Community College, where the 6-6 right-hander won eight of his 12 starts and posted a 1.57 ERA while striking out 92.

 Also in from the 2016 draft is 6-5 Trent Johnson, chosen in the 16th round from Sante Fe Community College and Maxwell Kluhns, selected in the 21st round out of Santa Clara University. Up from Gulf Coast are 6-5 right-hander Gregorix Estevez (2-4, 4.31) and 6-5 left-hander Kurtis Horne (1-0, 2.40). Horne also has the distinction of the longest trip to Kingsport, some 2,800 miles from his native Sooke, BC, Canada.

 Among the returnees to Kingsport are Adrian Almeida (2-1, 5.94) and Darwin Ramos (2-4, 4.47), Venezuelans signed as non-drafted free agents in 2012.

“Those guys are good pitchers, both still working on their command,” said Rivera. “I think it was a great idea to have them come back here and continue developing.”
In total, 17 of the initial 32 players on the K-Mets roster are pitchers. Of the remaining 15 position players, 11 were signed as undrafted free agents, including the entire six-player infield allotment. Infielder Santo Marte is the lone Kingsport infield holdover while Atlanta-native Raphael Ramirez in the only outfielder returning.

Also in the outfield will be 2016 draft picks Ian Strom, a 22nd-round selection from UMass-Lowell and Jeremy Wolfe, a 31st-round pick out of Trinity University. One of the top prospects on the team is 19-year-old outfielder Ricardo Cespedes, who is up from Gulf Coast.

Two of the three catchers were in Kingsport last season, Dionis Rodriguez and Jose Maria. They are joined by Charlotte, North Carolina, native Anthony Dimino, a 28th-round draft pick last year out of Belmont Abbey College.

 Position player wise, we have some good young players that are ready,” said Rivera. “We don’t have a lot of power hitters, but have some guys with some good approaches who put the ball in play and a do a lot of the little things.”

The K-Mets begin the 2016 season Thursday night against the Elizabethton Twins at 7 p.m. It’s the first game of a six-game home stand to start the season. Following three with the Twins, the Pulaski Yankees come to town for a three-game set beginning Sunday.

      

ROSTER (from K Mets website):

Managers & Coaches

#
Name
Pos
Bat
Thw
Ht
Wt
DOB
Status
56
Ender Chavez
Hitting Coach
L
L
5' 11"
155
03-09-1981
Active
40
Royce Ring
Pitching Coach
L
L
6' 0"
220
12-21-1980
Active
9
Luis Rivera
Manager
R
R
6' 1"
190
01-25-1984
Active

Pitchers

#
Name
Pos
Bat
Thw
Ht
Wt
DOB
Status
MLB 40-man
28
P
L
L
6' 0"
150
02-25-1995
Active
No
P
R
R
6' 1"
173
09-20-1994
Suspended
No
45
P
R
R
6' 5"
200
04-12-1994
Active
No
17
P
R
R
6' 3"
175
09-10-1992
Active
No
18
P
R
R
6' 1"
160
01-26-1996
Active
No
15
P
R
R
6' 5"
200
10-08-1995
Active
No
36
P
L
L
6' 5"
190
08-05-1996
Active
No
4
P
R
R
6' 1"
190
06-11-1996
Active
No
21
P
R
R
6' 5"
185
08-12-1996
Active
No
16
P
R
R
6' 3"
210
08-11-1994
Active
No
25
P
L
L
6' 2"
180
08-25-1996
Active
No
34
P
R
R
6' 2"
195
11-23-1995
Active
No
6
P
L
L
6' 2"
175
01-21-1997
Active
No
19
P
R
L
6' 2"
190
06-12-1996
Active
No
27
P
L
L
5' 11"
160
05-17-1993
Active
No
33
P
R
R
6' 1"
195
05-10-1994
Active
No
35
P
R
R
6' 9"
230
09-28-1995
Active
No
30
P
R
L
6' 3"
180
09-13-1996
Active
No

Catchers

#
Name
Pos
Bat
Thw
Ht
Wt
DOB
Status
MLB 40-man
8
C
L
R
5' 11"
180
08-05-1993
Active
No
24
C
R
R
5' 9"
195
11-30-1994
Active
No
11
C
R
R
6' 0"
185
02-15-1995
Active
No

Infielders

#
Name
Pos
Bat
Thw
Ht
Wt
DOB
Status
MLB 40-man
7
SS
R
R
6' 0"
165
11-23-1993
Active
No
29
2B
R
R
5' 9"
180
01-01-1996
Active
No
12
3B
R
R
6' 0"
170
01-14-1997
Active
No
13
SS
R
R
6' 0"
152
05-19-1997
Active
No
1
2B
R
R
5' 9"
170
09-30-1993
Active
No
23
3B
R
R
5' 9"
160
03-21-1996
Active
No

Outfielders

#
Name
Pos
Bat
Thw
Ht
Wt
DOB
Status
MLB 40-man
5
OF
R
R
6' 1"
200
04-24-1993
Active
No
32
OF
L
L
6' 1"
160
08-24-1997
Active
No
OF
R
R
6' 1"
185
12-14-1992
Restricted
No
44
OF
R
R
6' 3"
170
10-21-1996
Active
No
2
CF
L
L
5' 11"
175
12-15-1995
Active
No
20
OF
R
L
6' 2"
200
12-12-1994
Active
No
3
OF
L
R
6' 3"
220
11-02-1993
Active
No
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