10/14/18

From The Desk...

20 comments



Good morning.


Mark Vientos may need to find a new position –

The results of this move were not promising on the defensive side of things. Vientos committed 13 errors in 133 opportunities. He finished the year with a poor .902 fielding percentage, showing early on in his professional career that perhaps a position changed is needed.

Mack – Vientos is not a 5-tool player, but his impressive bat was reason enough to draft, and develop him. The worst scenario here should be an AL DH chip someday.





Baseball pioneer honored –

        
   The life of Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first African-American to play professional baseball, was remembered Sunday as the community gathered to dedicate a mural in his honor.

           He played baseball while at Oberlin College, then at the University of Michigan and ultimately for the American Association’s Toledo Blue Stockings (1883-1884). The team received threats due to Walker’s appearance as catcher and he soon had to leave the team. After Walker played his last game for Toledo, no other African-American would play in Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

Mack – Every time I turn on the news I think that we have turned the clock back on race relations. Then I find a story like this and realize we are still far ahead of how bad it was.


Arizona League Stats (thru 10/12)

         
   1B     Peter Alonso                       16-AB, .500/.556/.750/1.206, 1-HR

            CF      Desmond Lindsay              4-AB, .500/.500/2.000/2.500, 2-HR

            SS      Andres Gimenez                4-AB, .250/.500/1.000/1.500, 1-HR

            C        Ali Sanchez                          4-AB, .000/.333/.000/.333, 0-HR

            RP     Steven Nogosek                 1-IP, 0-K, 0.00, 0.00

            RP     Joe Zanghi                           2-IP, 1-K, 0.00, 1.00

            RP     Matt Blackham                  1.1-IP, 1-K, 6.75, 3.75

            RP     Gerson Bautista                 3-IP, 2-K, 3.00, 1.33


It’s getting close to my creating my mock drafts for 2019. The Mets have the 12th overall pick and it looks like that one of the serios bats will still be available when they pick. Niceville HS (FL) SS/3B/OF Rece Hinds looks like the second coming of Jarred Kelenick. PG has him graded as a 10, stating:

Rece Hinds is a 2019 SS/3B/OF with a 6-4 210 lb. frame from Niceville, FL who attends Niceville HS. Big and strong athletic build, long arms and room to get stronger. Third base tools defensively, has outstanding raw arm strength, good one spot lower half quickness and athleticism. Right handed hitter, elite level power with big raw bat speed and extension through contact, can get long and around the ball at times but can launch them to where others can't when everything comes together, has the ability to drive the right centerfield gap at times as well.
One more thing about Hinds… he spent the last few months traveling, and winning, every Home Run Derby he could enter.
This is serious power with excellent third base skills.



NFL certainly has its issues, but Major League Baseball   is the one that’s truly suffering –

It turns out we’ve been focusing on the wrong sport. The NFL certainly has its issues, but Major League Baseball is the one that’s truly suffering. Attendance is dropping, TV ratings are adequate but nowhere near the NFL’s, the games are too long and extend too late into the evening and kids aren’t growing up to be baseball fans as they were a generation or two ago.

Mack – As I mentioned in a comment last Thursday, the rising salaries will catch up to the declining team revenues and the perfect storm will develop during the next players/owners negotiation for a new contract. This sport could be in serious trouble.


OPENING THE DOOR ON THE PLIGHT OF PENSIONLESS MLB BALLPLAYERS –

For the past nine years, I have been attempting to get justice for retired, pensionless baseball players who clearly don’t appreciate the fact that they have been forsaken by both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the union representing current players, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA). Through no fault of their own, these men were victimized by a vesting rules change that occurred during the 1980 Memorial Day Weekend.
At the time, ballplayers such as the New York Mets’ George “The Stork” Theodore, Bobby Pfeil, Rod Gaspar, Hank Webb, and Dave Schneck, as well as the New York Yankees’ Rich Hinton and Ross Moschitto, needed to accrue four years of service credit; that was what anyone who played between 1947 – 1979 needed to be eligible for the pension plan.

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10/13/18

Bob Gregory - Roster Musings

13 comments


Hey Mack 

I hope you are enjoying your week.

I've been thinking about your focus on JT Realmuto and you have won me over.  I will join your quest to put him in Citi-Field.

I will differ on how to acquire him though.  Instead of using Alonzo as the trade chip, how about possibly...Rosario.  

Hear me out a moment before complete dismissal.

I'm looking at being able to move Rosario by having th ed Mets open the wallet and spend to get Machado.  After all he is going to be priced as a power hitting Shortstop, so if paying that price, might as well pencil him in at shortstop.

If the Mets seem Alonzo as more valuable as a trade asset, then maybe he could be used to acquire a true centerfielder. Or, he can stay and maybe prove himself.

Imagine

Nimmo leading off

McNeil batting second

Machado

4th, 5th, 6th, 7th being filled by Bruce, Conforto, Frazier, Alonzo (or new CF), & Flores.

The Mets get a youth movement too!

Realmuto (27), Machado (26), Nimmo (25), Conforto (25), Jeff McNeil (26), Alonzo (23)

And... your favorite future Met Jimenez is waiting in the wings as Frazier moves on.

Now this is a nice core for the next 5 years!
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Reese Kaplan -- The Mets Employment Questionnaire for GMs

4 comments


If you are evaluating potential candidates for a job opening, there are any number of ways to do so.  Many firms employ personality tests which reveal emotional tendencies, work ethic and employment behavior.  Some of them are kind of ridiculous because they ask questions to which the answers being sought are obvious, like, “Suppose you saw a co-worker with a bottle of alcohol in his desk drawer.  What would you do?”  Anyone with a functioning brain knows that they want you to say, “I’d contact the HR department or that employee’s supervisor since drinking at the workplace is unacceptable behavior.”

I got to thinking about what types of questions might Jeff Wilpon pose to prospective GM candidates who come into New York for job interviews: 




When going to business meetings representing the ballclub what accommodations should you book?

  1. A respectable hotel that will make a good impression on fellow baseball executives
  2. A hotel for which the club has a frequent-buyer arrangement to aggregate promotional points
  3. AirBNB and see who might rent out space on the sofa for you to sleep that night
  4. That's a trick question.  Use Hotwire.com to bid on a redeye coach flight back to avoid hotel costs altogether


In evaluating prospective ballplayers to bolster the roster, what are your primary concerns?

  1. Past performance is the best indicator of future expectations
  2. How well the person will fit into the existing clubhouse dynamic
  3. Advanced metrics to determine the player’s actual value including trend information
  4. See who has pecadilloes in his past that will suppress his current and future earnings


How should you approach the free agent marketplace to address identified needs?

  1. Understand that past performance is no guarantee of future results and don’t overpay for what happened 3-4 years ago
  2. Talk to everyone to get a holistic view of the marketplace as free agency only requires sacrificing money whereas trading sacrifices both player resources AND money
  3. Look for value priced free agents who don’t have flashy numbers but whose performance is trending upward
  4. Understand that good players are wanted by their ballclubs and anyone on the open market has already been spurned by his previous employer and should be avoided


What is your philosophy about enhancing minor league scouting and player acquisition?

  1. Prospects are just that with no proven track record and thus should be used as trade chips
  2. Developing younger ballplayers is far less expensive than acquiring experienced ones, so in the long run it makes sense to expand scouting and player development
  3. Identify undervalued assets on other ballclubs and be active in the Rule V draft
  4. If the ballplayers we draft are not knowledgeable about how the game is played and what they need to do to succeed, then cut them loose and try again with fresh bodies


How do you feel about the international marketplaces as a means of acquiring baseball talent?

  1. Lots of foreign ballplayers have failed, consequently it’s a risky proposition to invest offshore
  2. Many people in third world countries grow up in immense poverty and would be happy with whatever little we offer them
  3. The changing demographics of the baseball fan suggest you need to be open to acquiring and marketing ballplayers to fans of different cultures
  4. How are our fielders supposed to call someone off on a popup if they don’t speak the same language?


Suppose you have a direction you’d like to take and I disagree with you, what would you do?

  1. Acquiesce because you respect the chain of command
  2. Firmly and respectfully lay out your arguments for why we should support your ideas
  3. Kneel before me and kiss my finger where a World Series ring would be had we won one in the past 32 years
  4. Ask me to lower my trousers and turn around so you could kiss me somewhere else


I wish Mssrs. LaRocque, Watson, Bloom, Melvin and Ms. Ng luck in working their way through this employment personality profile questionnaire. Others have gone through worse and survived.  Think of it as a boot camp preparation for the job that follows this one.  





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10/12/18

Tom Brennan - SPORADIC THOUGHTS

6 comments

Tom Brennan - SPORADIC THOUGHTS

I last wrote a few weeks back that I would write sporadically, if at all, this off season.  A long LIRR train ride today got me thinking a bit, nothing profound, but here goes:

Jeff McNeil - one thing I love about looking up stats on baseballreference.com is they give you a 162 game projection. Jeff's terrific 63 game MLB rookie season debut projected out to this for 162 games:

638 PA, 579 AB, 90 R, 190 H, 28 2B, 15 3B, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 62 K, 18 of 21 SB, .329 AVG.

People I talk to about Jeff routinely throw in, "boy, he can really field, too."   Yep.

And people wonder if the second base position is not settled going into 2019?  Me? I sure think so.

Let me ask you this: would the Yankees have rather had Giancarlo Stanton in the line up for their recent failed BOSOX series, or Jeff McNeil?  "I choose door #2, Johnny."

Peter Alonso - the man who some want traded due to defensive deficiencies is a mere 5 for 8 with a HR and 4 RBI in his first 2 Arizona Fall League games.  
To me?  Our future bopping 1B, and darned soon, too. Amazingly, in 2018's regular season, his splits against lefty and righty pitchers were virtually identical. Don't believe me? Look it up, pal.

Andres Gimenez - where's the power, some say.  He homered (and walked) in his first AFL game, so that's where, friend.  He will be starting for the Mets in 2019, is how I see it, maybe on or around July 24.  Good date.  That date this season was when Jeff the Great McNeil debuted.  


Minor League Players Released - I am not sure if the Mets released more guys this year after the 2018 season than they usually do, but it was a lot.  
Me? Not surprised.  The teams in Columbia and St Lucie hit poorly, and most hitters released were only called hitters because they don't pitch, to be a bit blunt.  

The hitting for the Mets' 3 rookie teams was highly encouraging in 2018, though, vs. 2017, so my guess is the number of minors hitters released this time next year will be fewer.  "If they're good, I'm keepin' 'em, bro."

Some released minors pitchers had solid stats.  I did an article a few years back that showed the Mets releasing a large bunch of pitchers that year with collectively very solid stats. Why?
Presumably, the talent evaluators realized that those dudes lacked heat, and would hit fierce headwinds as they climbed any further. Darwin's theory apples to baseball, certainly...survival of the fittest. 

Considering that the guys released were not as good as the guys who pitched for the Mets in 2018, and that the 15 most "generous" bullpen guys in Queens combined for 227 innings and 184 runs allowed (7.30 runs per 9 innings), trust me:

The pitchers recently released would never be good enough to make the bigs.  

Oh, and 184 runs?  If you wanted to hold your opponents for the year to 4 runs per game (648), that 184 runs is 28% of that total - and that does not include the 10 relievers with ERAs below 5.00.  Fix the danged pen!

Message to Mets:
 
Darwin says draft power arms. That's his theory - mine, too.

Starters: with deGrom, Thor, Wheels, Matz, and Vargas/Lugo, do the Mets stand poised to enter 2019 with baseball's best starting rotation?  If not, whose rotation do you think is better? (I'm sticking with ours.  Of course, if this were the Yanks, they'd be looking to replace Vargas with Clayton Kershaw or some other such unknown.)


Whoops, my train just left Jamaica Station, just a few miles from Citifield.  The Manhattan Skyline (and loss of wireless service) looms ever larger.

So, it is time for Mr. Sporadic to sign off.  Until we sporadically meet again.
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Reese Kaplan -- Don't Ask For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ask When

7 comments


Tick-tock…that’s the sound of time passing by.  You can’t get it back.  You can’t get a do-over.  Whatever has happened, has happened.

In the case of the Mets, it’s more a matter of what HASN’T happened.  When Sandy Alderson announced in June he was not returning, the team was quick to form the triumvirate nicknamed the Three Stooges to soldier on in his absence.  They functioned (or dysfunctioned) as you might expect someone in an interim role to do – finding scrap heap droppings from other teams, dumping salaries of established players and essentially not doing a whole lot to improve the club’s outlook short of promoting Jeff McNeil after Asdrubal Cabrera was sent to the city of brotherly love in their failed quest for the post-season.


So now here it is October and for the months of July, August and September the Mets did nothing with that quarter year of time in preparation for the interviews to fill the GM vacancy.  In fact, the first round of interviews didn’t even start until this past week which means there’s unlikely to be someone in place before the first important baseball date occurs – the filing of free agency by ballplayers once the World Series concludes.  The Mets have several people likely to go that route, including, Jerry Blevins, Austin Jackson, Jose Lobaton, Devin Mesoraco, AJ Ramos and Jose Reyes.  The only one of that group probably meriting serious consideration is Jerry Blevins who rebounded nicely from an awful start.  Devin Mesoraco showed some leadership, some power and missed a lot of time due to injuries.  I wouldn’t think it prudent to bring him back.  If they want an injury-prone catcher they could just keep Travis d’Arnaud for less money.

So the departing free agents are not all that much of a concern but it also spells the time that additions to the roster via free agency can begin and that’s a major source of consternation.  If the club felt that the addition of a premier catcher like Yasmani Grandal or Wilson Ramos, or a serious reliever like Craig Kimbrel or Kelvin Herrera or Jeurys Familia was worth pursuing, you’re already behind the eight ball if the Three Stooges are dividing their time between planning for the future and selecting their new boss. 

The Mets have gone on record stating that their goal is to have a new GM in place before the GM meetings that take place starting November 6th.  By my calendar it's now October 12th.  If you allow the standard 2 weeks' notice to a previous employer, then the drop-dead date for a new hire would be October 23rd.  Ideally you'd like some on-the-job time to strategize a bit before this critical meeting, so that would push it back a week earlier, October 16th.  In other words, they need to make an offer and have it accepted by Tuesday.  That would enable the new GM to provide two weeks' notice (through October 30th) in order to begin then and have a week to focus exclusively on the Mets prior to the GM meetings.  Raise you hand if you think the Mets will have a decision by Tuesday.  Anyone?

The next big deadline they’re facing is November 30th.  Is it possible they’ll have a GM in place by then?  Sure, but it would have been a better bet had they actually began the process in June when they knew the vacancy had evolved.  That date is significant as it spells the non-tender deadline for your 40-man roster.  Many advocate Rafael Montero being cut.  Some suggest Travis d’Arnaud get the same fate.  Others even suggest the increasingly expensive Wilmer Flores can go assuming T.J. Rivera is back from the witness protection program.   Who’s going to be making these calls?  Larry, Moe and Curly have not shown much skill when it comes to roster construction. 

9 days later the Winter Meetings begin where the groundwork for deals (if not the actual deals themselves) take place when you have all of baseball’s GMs in one place at the same time.  While that shouldn’t preclude other GMs from talking to the Three Stooges about trades, the fact is that their authority is limited knowing that they are not the long-term management team.  On the other hand, other teams may see how poorly the Mets judge talent in return in trades based upon what has happened recently and may salivate over the opportunity to fleece them again. 

Worse yet, the free agents’ agents will also be around and they’ll likely not want to push their top tier clients into a dysfunctional situation with no clear end in sight (even if the Mets were uncharacteristically willing to shop for brand names instead of generics and the scratch & dent sections). 

A mere four days later is the Rule V draft where the club has to decide who to protect on the 40-man roster and, quite rarely, who they might try to snag from someone else.  Yes, there are always Brad Emaus types available, but when they acquired Sean Gilmartin in 2015 he gave them 50 games of 2.67 ERA relief pitching.  Do you see the acumen required to identify unprotected players from other clubs?  Remember, this is the same triumvirate that took two disabled players (and some international signing money) for Jeurys Familia while the Padres sent an inferior pitcher to Cleveland for the best (and healthy) catching prospect in baseball.  

Now, to be completely fair to the Mets, they likely could not approach current executives such as Gary Larocque of the Cardinals, De Jon Watson of the Nationals and Doug Melvin of the Brewers who were all under contract.  It is standard practice to wait until the end of the season to ask for permission to interview them.  

Conversely, Kim Ng of the MLB front office was under no such restrictions and could have been vetted anytime during those three months of stagnation by the front office to have a baseline against which to judge these others.  You could have been upfront with her and said you need the opportunity to see the folks employed by teams before a decision was made and that would have reduced the burden from 4 down to 3 (a small number due to good talent like Ben Cherington and Thad Levine telling the Mets thanks, but no thanks).   


At this point I’m not handicapping the race in terms of who they select but I’m much more concerned with when they make their decision.  We all know that just as Ted Turner was a famously meddling owner of the Braves, Jeff Wilpon will not allow whomever he selects to have full autonomy.  Consequently the when in this equation is much more important than the who. 

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10/11/18

From The Desk – Dirty Laundry, Steamboat Johnson, Frank Viola, Thomas Szapucki, Playoff Baseball

9 comments


Good morning.



We’ve moved into the off season and we’ve had some writer shifts. Tom Brennan has decided to take the off-season off and concentrate on family matters. And Christopher Soto has taken his very enjoyable winter updates to Mets Minors. This has resulted in less quality writing here at Mack’s Mets.

The rest of us will carry on, but we could use some help from a couple of you readers (especially the ones who write such intelligent comments to what we write). Become a writer here. EVERYONE that has ever written here was first a reader.

The pay is the same as the revenue I get on this site. Nothing. But you can write whatever you want, whenever you want. All I ask is that the post is edited, in the 500-1000 word range, and is about either the Mets or baseball in general.

Email me at macksmets@gmail.com and I can send you an email that will direct you to the entry point into the site.


Mojo Hill - @mojohill22

Brooks Baseball’s description of Jose Reyes the pitcher:


His fourseam fastball comes in below hitting speed, has heavy sinking action, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and has slightly less natural movement than typical.



Las Vegas 1B/OF Patrick Kivlehan chose free agency and was signed by Arizona and assigned to Reno. He will be missed as an adequate AAAA first baseman, especially after Peter Alonso heads 'south'.



The Most Entertaining Umpire  in Minor League History –

He wiggled his hands when calling strikes, opened boxes of baseballs with his teeth and slid with runners for a closer view. He also umpired more minor league baseball games than anyone in history.

Umpire Harry “Steamboat” Johnson was on the field in ballparks across the country from 1911-1946, and his stories are as great as his nickname.



Ernie Acosta - @ErnieAcostaWFAN -


There we have it.  The Yankees lost because they didn’t keep Todd Frazier



Pitching instructor Frank Viola leaving Mets -

        
Popular Mets pitching instructor Frank Viola is leaving the organization after eight seasons, a source confirmed Wednesday evening. Viola had hinted at his intentions in a tweet "wishing the Mets organization well," and thanking "all of the pitchers I've had a chance to work with."

That group includes Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, all of whom are currently in the Mets' rotation. Despite Viola's work with those arms, the Mets passed him over for their pitching coach vacancy last winter, instead sending Viola from Triple-A Las Vegas to Double-A Binghamton.

Mack – I’ll miss this guy. He was nice to me when I covered the Sand Gnats and he was the pitching coach there.

Something went wrong here. He was on his way to the Mets bullpen and was sent in the other direction to Binghamton.

Doesn’t make sense. Always a class act.


New York Mets  Top 10 Prospects Updated –

           
9. Thomas Szapucki | LHP | INJ —> Szapucki, 22, has lost significant development time due to injuries over the past two years, including Tommy John surgery which wiped out his 2018 season. He has the potential to be a mid-rotation arm if he can stay healthy. He has a mid-90s heater and excellent curveball. There was potential in the changeup, too, before he got hurt. He is a high-risk, high-reward player.

Mack – We can’t forget this guy. He was our top pitching prospect before his current TJS.

I expect him to return to St. Lucie in 2019, but to quickly move to Binghamton. A slower rebuilding program will probably prevent him from seeing Syracuse next season, but, if he remains healthy, could be ready for Queens by mid-2020.


Baseball playoffs   might not be fair, but that’s part of the thrill –
                   
     What happened to the word “tiebreaker”? In this case, MLB doesn’t have it. The Dodgers and Rockies had to do the same crazy dance as the Cubs and Brewers: play each other for the 20th time to decide the NL West title even though the Dodgers dominated the season series 12-7. Extra games, extra travel, shred your pitching staffs — deal with it, that’s today’s baseball.

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Mike Freire - Fleeting Thoughts

8 comments


Good Morning, Mets fans!

I sit here at work on a Wednesday afternoon, looking out the window at the "outskirts" of Hurricane Michael as he passes by our area (Tampa) to the west. What started out as a disorganized "tropical storm" has turned into a monster of a hurricane. The storm surge and accompanying flooding will likely devastate the area around Panama City, never mind the flooding rains and mind boggling wind speeds.

On one hand, we are feeling quite lucky to have narrowly avoided the brunt of that storm and on the other hand, my thoughts and prayers go out to the folks that weren't so lucky. I hope that folks took heed and evacuated if need be and for the reckless souls that stayed behind to ride the storm out, I hope that you live to tell the tale.   

I know, enough weather talk and get on with the rest of this article, right?

1.  Riding a moped, listening to "power ballads", watching Magnum PI reruns (the old version) and/or lounging in bed way too long on a Sunday morning are all "guilty pleasures" that a person could enjoy, but they certainly wouldn't brag about them (I am talking about a friend). Another entry to this list would be watching the "Evil
Empire" lose another playoff series.

Is that petty? Probably so and it may also come across as a bit sad since the team that I root for didn't even make it to the playoffs to start with. Plus, as most Yankee fans would say, they have "more rings"! Whatever, I find it oddly satisfying that they were crushed in their own ballpark and they now get to watch the rest of the proceedings on TV, like the us!

2.  I read an article on a different website recently and it was an early look at free agency and the impending "hot stove" season. Popular names on the list were Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, among others. Interestingly enough, Manny was actually linked to the Mets since we have a short term void at third base (at least according to the author of the article). I think we are actually in good shape moving forward, but that's just me.

What was shocking was the "potential" contract that the two players were rumored to be in line for (think north of 30 million per year, spread out over six or seven years).  I know that both players are in their prime(s), but that is just a staggering amount!  I would love to have either player on my team from a talent standpoint, but I just don't
see how that salary would fit into our payroll?  Really makes you wonder where the game is headed. 

3.  Several folks on this blog have done a nice job outlining the recent purge of minor league players and the implications that it will have on the new 40 man roster.  An additional wrinkle will be the Rule V Draft that is scheduled to take place in December, putting a premium on who the team keeps and who they let go. 

I will freely admit that I don't follow the minor leagues as closely as I do the parent club, so it is harder for me to tell if the recent "bloodletting" is all that serious. But, the sheer number of players being jettisoned seems a bit unusual compared to previous years and I wonder what that means? Are we simply moving a bunch of players up from lower levels and space is needed? Or, are the Mets consolidating one or more lower level organizations to save some cash (like going from two to one DSL squads)?

Something seems like it is brewing under the surface and it is all the more unusual since the organization has not named a GM (yet).

4.  Speaking of our "future" GM, what is with the recent chatter that it could very well be a current player's agent? I encourage "outside the box" thinking and I consider myself open minded, but that seems really odd to me. Unless there are significant changes in the organizational chart, I am not sure if I want an agent in charge of player/personnel moves. 

Some say that the agent would take on a "presidential" role, while a younger executive would assume the day to day operations of the team (i.e. a traditional GM). It all seems really strange and when you couple that with what I mentioned in #3, I am really confused heading into an important off season for the team.

Hey, maybe we will get lucky and this is all in preparation for the Wilpon's to cash out and sell the club?

Well, that's it until next time.

As always, stay safe Mets' fans.
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