Mack – Q and A – Zack Wheeler, Jordan Humphreys, Neil Walker, First Base

Good morning.

Conrad asks –

OK, so say Wheeler starts the year in the BP to ease him into returning to a starting role (what the Cardinals do).  Now say he’s lights-out in relief—like black hole lights-out.  Do you keep him there?  Many pitch their way out of a starting role through failure, can you pitch your way out the rotation through success?

            Mack – Hey Conrad.

Baseball teams balance the need of the team with the ability of the player. Right now, it seems that the Mets are top heavy with seven viable candidates for their rotation.

I have seen many Mets starters have relatively successful minor league careers as a starter, only to be more successful as a reliever. In most cases, it is because the pitcher in question has the ability to throw high velo, especially in early innings.

Remember Noah Syndergaard’s first playoff inning? His fastball, which averaged 102, topped off at 103. Imagine this guy as a 15-20 pitch late inning reliever.

Two guys that come to mind are Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. Both found more success in the pen.

My guess is, if Wheeler is ‘black hold lights out’ in relief, at any level, he will remain in relief, at all levels. I would hope that his future would be based on the care and welfare of his arm, but go ask Brad Holt how that worked out for him.

Michael asks –

                       I was looking at your web site the other day and I saw your top prospect list. There’s a name on there that I know nothing about. 

                   Who is Jordan Humphreys?


                   Mack - Thanks for the question, Michael.    

                   Humphreys is a prep kid out of Crystal River, Florida, that was signed in the 18th round of the 2015 draft. He only got in seven professional games that year and all were for the GCL Mets out of the pen (11.2-IP, 7-K, 1-BB, 1.54, 1.11). 

                  In 2016, he returned to starting and impressed in Kingsport (12-starts, 69,1-IP, 76-K, 15-BB, 3.76, 1.15). He also led the Appy league in strikeouts.

He was promoted near the end of the season to Brooklyn, where he started one game (6.0-IP, 9-K, 1.50).

                       So far, even though it is a small sample, his professional stat line is quite impressive – 20-G, 13-starts, 87-IP, 92-K, 17-BB, 3.31 1.16.

                       His fastball is in the lower 90s, but his secondary stuff still needs a little polish. Still, he was worth adding to the bottom of my list. Keep an eye on him in Brooklyn this season.

Bill asked –
                       Assuming he's 100% and wants to stay, do you think a Murphy-like deal to Neil Walker which includes this year at lower cost, would be fair to both sides?


                   Mack - I wonder if Reese can figure out which Bill asked this question.
                   Lots of flags here, but yes. If he was fully healed and was producing at least at the level he was producing at last year before his back went south, I would add at least one more year to his contract.

                       He’s not the oldest second baseman in the league and he did hit 62 home runs in the past three seasons.

                       But, before you sign him up, you have to answer this… do you instead pick up Astrubel Cabrera’s option for next season, promote Amed Rosario, and shift Cabrera to second?

Maynard asked –

            Mack, why can’t Michael Conforto convince Terry to let him take some reps in camp at first base?

Mack - That's not how it works, Maynard.

Players have no say in what positions they play. They can stop by the manager’s office and voice an opinion but managers (and their boss upstairs) have usually decided who plays where during the pre-season camp.

As for first base, it’s Lucas Duda’s job to play there in 2017 and his backups are Wilmer Flores and Neil Walker. In addition, if Duda goes on the disabled list, T.J. Rivera is a phone call away.

2018 goes to Dominic Smith who should be the starting first baseman for the lion share of the games.

Conforto’s 2017 role will be determined next month, which will either be one of the Mets outfielders or a full-time player in Las Vegas. Either way, I don’t see first base as his future. 


Tom Brennan said...

Humphreys could be yet another good one, Mack.

Mack Ade said...

Morning Tom -

I had to throw in Humphreys at this point, just to acknowledge a great start in a pro career.

The next two full season will be his test.

Richard Jones said...

If Gsellman still throws his sinking fastball at 94 with the command of his secondary pitches he had last year I don't know if a healthy Zack Wheeler wins the 5th spot. Gsellman is still getting better. Wheeler would have to be a better pitcher than he was at anytime when he was healthy to beat out Gsellman unless Gsellman regresses.
It should be very interesting. I still think they need to go with a 6 man rotation even if that means rotating starters out of the rotation rather than a straight 6 man rotation. Syndergaard is the only one of them who would have enough innings in him to to be reading for the playoff if they pitched straight through the season on a five man rotation.

Mack Ade said...

Richard -

This is another reason to keep drafting top starters with your first two picks in every draft.

A top prospect starter can get you a quality trade to fill in an opening at any other position on your team. Imagine if Wheeler, Gsellman, AND Lugo excel this season. You now are in command to find a new 2018 player whereever you need them.

Reese Kaplan said...

I keep reading about Neil Walker being a backup at 1B. I didn't remember him ever playing there, so I looked it up. He has 913 games at 2B, 15 at 3B and 0 at 1B. It would seem he's just as qualified/unqualified as Jay Bruce or Michael Conforto there. Wilmer Flores is the veteran with 27 games there. TJ Rivera has also been brought up as a possibility, but he too has about the same in the minors with 3 innings in the majors. They are thin there should Lucas Duda need a break.

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't get the love for Walker. I know he is a good player but is he a difference maker type player? He has never hit more than 23hrs or drive in more than 83/86 runs while his range is not that great.

To me you can come close to this using Flores and if you want a better glove at 2B, pick up Cabrera's option for 2018. Either way, signing Walker is getting a player that the Mets have cheaper replacement for.

As far as Wheeler is concerned, I would keep him as a starter. If he is not ready at the beginning of the year, send him to Vegas for a month. His value is as a starter. If memory serves me correctly, he doesn't have the greatest control and the last thing you want is a reliever with no control.


Tom Brennan said...

Viper, the only thing I will say about Zach's control is he always had a bad elbow, it seemed a question of when it would blow, not if. Maybe the discomfort impacted his control. if he is healthy, maybe we see a better Wheeler. Big maybe, I know.

That Adam Smith said...

All due respect, Reese, but I disagree on your first point. It'a one thing to move an infielder, who is used to fielding grounders and receiving throws, over to first base, than an OF. I would say that Walker (or Flores or any of the other IF) 8/ immediately more qualified at the position than Conforto or Bruce or any other OF who hasn't really played there.

That Adam Smith said...

On Walker, I feel like the FO likes him a lot overall, including his leadership and clubhouse presence. Those considerations seem to be important to this group, and while I'm often critical of moves made or. Or made, I like that they've brought together (for the past several years, really) teams that are easy to like and easy to root for (the manager is a different case). Right now, I feel like the FO is assuming that DW won't really be here after '17, and so their 3B is going to be either Cabrera or Walker, with the other one either at 2B or as a utility guy behind one of the kids. Rosario is the SS unless he fails to take the next step. In this scenario, if Walker is healthy, and again, given that they like having Jim on the team, a reasonable extension for him would be a solid move.

Zozo said...

They should of let Walker walk this offseason but they better do so next year.
We have plenty of guys that can take his spot, I would prefer you spend that money elsewhere.
Next year I would pickup Cabreras option and sign Reyes to a 2 year deal. Spend that money on a top center fielder and catcher.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mack:
Like ive said many times
Build(draft) the Arms and
Buy(trade) for Bats


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