The Mets tied the Cardinals 5 to 5 in their seventh spring training ballgame. And as the saying goes, a tie is like kissing your sister.
Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn’t particularly impressive. His fastball was straight, about waist high, not overpowering, and hittable. His curve was decent, as was his slider, and it seems he’ll have to live on those two pitches to retire MLB hitters, which is a dicey strategy (pardon the pun) for long-term success. I can see him baffling young, aggressive linueps for several innings, but he’s going to struggle against most others.
John Lannan — Dice-K’s main competition for a rotation spot — wasn’t much better. Lannan struggled to locate his pitches and wasn’t fooling anyone. His mechanics have always been poor and dangerous and they haven’t improved; he looks like he’s shot-putting the ball, a motion that puts stress on his elbow and prevents him from fully rotating his shoulder — thus, putting stress on the shoulder as well. If he’s not currently pitching with pain, he will be eventually.
Daniel Murphy booted the first ground ball hit to him, but it was his first game of the spring so he’s rusty. During the same inning of the error, the second-base umpire was struck by a ball, and it was noted by the SNY crew that he was situated on the infield grass, not far from the pitcher, and it seemed to be an unusual position. I have to wonder if the umpire set himself there because Murphy plays so deep? Though I’m not sure that makes any sense, either. Hey, it’s spring training for everyone — maybe the ump was trying something new.
Ruben Tejada also displayed rustiness by booting one ball and letting another go through the wickets. No worries — there’s plenty of time to tune up.
The Mets defense, overall, in fact, was rather sloppy. Misplayed balls, missed balls, balls lost in the sun, lost between the legs, etc. But that’s going to happen when it’s early in the spring and you have random players who are out of position, learning new positions, and/or rusty.
I enjoyed listening to the between-innings interview with Wilmer Flores, who spoke with more confidence (in terms of presenting himself and speaking) and with very good diction. For someone who knew almost no English five years ago, that’s nice to hear — he spoke better than my grandmother, who moved to the USA at the age of 9 and lived here for close to 80 years, yet sounded like she “just got off the boat.” Flores is an impressive, maturing young man, the kind of player you like to root for.
At the same time, I don’t know about comparing Flores to Cal Ripken, Jr. and Jhonny Peralta, as Gary Cohen suggested while describing shortstops who weren’t known for quick feet. Let’s get a few more looks at Flores moving around the infield dirt before putting him in the same sentence as men who were everyday shortstops at the big league level.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis looks frustrated and lacking confidence at the plate — almost lost, but not quite. I wonder if he sees the writing on the wall — that there isn’t much chance for him to win a job on the big club — and has resigned himself to that.
The Mets came back in the late innings, aided in part by a jet stream blowing out to right field that carried fly balls over the fence in the seventh. In the ninth, a gaggle of bloops and bleeders allowed the Mets to tie the ballgame.
The first replay review of the spring in a Mets game was requested by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on a steal attempt by St. Louis runner Mike O’Neill. After about a minute and a half of review, the call (out) was upheld. Ironically, I think the umpires missed something in reviewing the call — the fact that Wilmer Flores was blocking the base without the ball. I say “ironically” because there’s been so much buzz this spring about catchers having to provide a lane for the runner / not being allowed to block home plate without possession of the baseball (which, by the way, they were never allowed to do). Flores had the base blocked with his foot as the throw from Anthony Recker was coming to him, and O’Neill couldn’t get to the bag as a result — O’Neill slid into Flores’ ankle, and was tagged as the contact moved him to the right and away from the base. I believe that Flores could have been called for obstruction, making O’Neill safe. It’s spring training, the call means little, but I found it interesting considering the talk about catchers blocking the plate during this offseason.
Speaking of O’Neill, he’s not much of a hitter nor a particularly speedy runner, but he has proven himself to be an on-base machine in the minors. In 2012 he led all of pro ball with a .458 OBP, and has a career .435 OBP in 4 professional seasons.
Jeurys Familia pitched one perfect inning, showing a good hard sinker and a sharp slider. If he can throw like that most of the time, he’ll be a nice late-inning guy.
Vic Black struck out two in his one inning of work, but struggled again with his command. He walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, but that was the aforementioned O’Neill, who was erased on the stolen base attempt. Black threw enough strikes to get the two other outs, getting missed swings almost exclusively from his breaking ball. His fastball was all over the place, getting it into the strike zone only twice — once when he dialed it down to 89 MPH. In total, 8 of his 14 pitches in the inning were balls.
So, that’s what I saw — what did you see? Post your thoughts in the comments.
Next Mets Spring Training Game
Noah Syndergaard makes his second appearance of the spring on Saturday against the Tigers in Lakeland, FL. Of course, the game will neither be broadcast on TV nor via an internet stream, so we won’t get to see viking boy. I really hope there are TV cameras on him at least once this spring, as I’m anxious to see Syndergaard’s mechanics. Maybe next week. We’ll also miss seeing Bartolo Colon‘s first spring appearance. The game will be broadcast on Tigers local radio and can be heard on MLB.com (though not XM / Sirius, strangely enough). The next Mets TV broadcast will be Sunday at 1:10 PM on WPIX.
Tough day for the Mets — both of their split squads fell to their opponent, preventing the Mets from accomplishing a winning streak.
In their game against the Nationals — broadcast on radio but not televised — the Mets lost 11-5. Meanwhile, the other squad squandered a 9th-inning rally and lost to the Marlins in extra innings, 5-2.
I won’t comment on the game vs. the Nats because there is only so much that can be gleaned from a radio broadcast; that said, the focus is on the game with the Fish.
Dillon Gee pitched well enough; it appeared he was working on things, and wasn’t exactly sharp, but not bad, either. The results were OK — 2 1/3 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, no walks, 1 K. He has plenty of time to fine-tune.
Gonzalez Germen, on the other hand, did not pitch well at all. Nine of his first ten pitches in the 10th were balls, and he wound up allowing four baserunners and three runs en route to his first loss of the spring. Though, he did provide perhaps the most exciting part of the game, as we wondered whether the length of the inning and his rising pitch count would result in a white towel being thrown onto the field. The morbid suspense was akin to watching the 2002 MLB All-Star Game, when both teams ran out of pitchers. Germen was the Mets’ final hurler of the day, and as his pitch count drew closer to 30, there was speculation that the Mets might ask the Marlins for mercy and simply end the inning, citing an unofficial gentlemen’s agreement amongst clubs during the meaningless spring games. I was on the edge of my seat!
Not much else to report.
I’m curious as to why we are seeing so much of Daniel Muno at second base — is he a prospect? I understand that Daniel Murphy (and David Wright) are being rested to make sure they don’t injure themselves in the spring (much to the chagrin of Keith Hernandez), but I don’t get why it’s Muno getting the reps. Why not Eric Young, Jr., who may get squeezed out of playing opportunities in the star-studded Mets outfield? (After checking the boxscore, I did see that Wilmer Flores played 2B against the Nats, which is good.) I suppose the Mets brass is intrigued with Muno’s ability to draw walks as a minor leaguer — he took 92 free passes last year in 127 AA games, and has a career .404 OBP. Otherwise, I don’t see much to get excited about in regard to Muno’s game. Who knows? Maybe he’s the next Marco Scutaro.
Joel Carreno‘s line looked great — one inning, no baserunners, three strikeouts — but I have to say he has not impressed me yet. His body type makes me think of Jose Valverde, which is appropos of nothing. His breaking ball lays right into the batter’s kitchen — about belt high, over the middle of the plate. He’s yet to break 89 MPH, which makes me really wonder, because I was under the impression that he threw in the 92 MPH range. Oh, and he was tipping his pitches, though I’m not sure the Fish batters were picking up on it. It’s pretty easy to see: after taking the sign from the catcher, if he looks back toward center field, he’s throwing a fastball. If he doesn’t look back, a breaking ball is on the way. If anyone on/from the Mets is reading, now would be a great time to let him know and fix the issue.
Jeff Walters did not pitch, but displayed excellent hair and an affinity for TV interviews. He was remarkable comfortable and engaging on camera, spoke well, and came off as very likeable. I’m hoping he can make the club, for no other reason than to provide some good between-innings / postgame color. If you haven’t heard of him, Walters is a late bloomer — he saved 38 games for AA Binghamton last year, but is 26 years old (turning 27 in November). I would think he has an outside shot at going north in April if there are a few injuries. Otherwise, we almost certainly will see him at some point in 2014.
Ryan Reid continues to be remarkably unimpressive; he reminds me of Chris Schwinden or Josh Stinson: straight, 90-91 MPH fastball that stays around the middle of the plate, not much else. He would be more interesting if he were Reid Ryan. Hmmm … Ryan Reid, Reid Ryan … Dick York, Dick Sargent … Sergeant York … but where the heck is Darrin Stevens in all this? Oh, never mind …
And then Michael Brady made an appearance, though without Peter nor Greg (nor Marcia, Jan, nor Cindy, for that matter).
OK, what did YOU see? Post in the comments.
Mets win two in a row in Florida. If they win one more, that’s called a “winning streak.”
Zack Wheeler hurled three shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. He threw a few decent change-ups and a few good-looking curveballs, which was nice to see. What wasn’t nice to see was that his motion slowed a bit when throwing the curve — to my eyes, anyway — and his arm remains behind with his forearm parallel to the ground (not good) when his front foot strikes the ground. He looked like he was over-striding, and during an interview afterward, he admitted to over-striding, but at the same time, that over-stride gave his arm a little more time to get to the right spot, so it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He needs to find a way to get his hand to what might be called a “launch” position when his front foot hits the ground — this will both take pressure off of his arm as well as increase velocity by better integrating his lower half.
Erik Goeddel didn’t have a great outing, neither did Vic Black, who after getting a quick third out in the sixth, had trouble finding the plate in the seventh. Kyle Farnsworth allowed one hit and no runs in an inning of work, but was unable to crack 90 MPH. I’m not sure Farnsworth has the command to consistently get away with 87-89 MPH velocity.
Not too much else to report, though I admit to fast-forwarding through most of the Mets hitters and focusing primarily on the pitchers. It’s hard to make any kind of analysis on offense / hitting in the spring, since one or two at-bats are too random and inconclusive. Pitching isn’t exactly easy to analyze, either, but I feel like more can be seen by a pitcher throwing 20-50 pitches than a batter taking 4-6 swings.
What did you see? Answer in the comments.
The Mets get blown out again, but no worries — it’s still early in the spring training season and these games don’t count, anyway.
Overall, the Cardinals looked like they were ready for Opening Day, while the Mets didn’t. Solely looking at body language — and I’m not sure if it’s a confidence thing, or having something to do with preparation, or each player knowing what their role is — the Cardinals had their act together, appearing relaxed, yet focused and intense. Understand, though, that St. Louis had most of their starting players in the lineup, while the Mets were fielding mostly a mix of players who are competing for roster spots. It wasn’t a fair matchup.
The first Mets hit was a wind-blown, opposite-field, ground-rule double by Curtis Granderson. It was also the last Mets hit until the 8th inning, when Brandon Nimmo sliced an opposite-field fly ball into an open spot in the outfield for a single.
During that initial inning, the Mets mounted something of a rally, loading the bases against Michael Wacha, but were ultimately denied from scoring by the big righthander. In Wacha’s defense, he was getting squeezed by the home plate umpire, especially against Josh Satin — who appeared to have struck out looking twice, but wound up walking instead.
From there the Redbirds pounded Mets pitching and dominated the Mets hitters. A few random observations …
At the plate, Brandon Allen kind of looks like a slightly smaller version of Ryan Howard. It appears he’ll strike out about as often as Howard, as well. Now, if only he can hit the ball over the fence with similar frequency, the Mets may have something.
Peter Bourjos is damn fast.
Daisuke Matsuzaka didn’t necessarily pitch poorly, but he wasn’t fooling anyone, either. His curve was hanging.
Travis d’Arnaud and Josh Satin perfectly executed rundown between home and third base to deny a Redbird runner from scoring.
Jose Valverde looks relatively healthy, but not dominating (yet?).
I’m going to reserve judgment on Jack Leathersich, as I assume he was nervous in his first spring appearance and perhaps over-throwing. He had a really rough outing, having a hard time finding the strike zone, and usually firing the ball at the letters or higher.
The Cards have a TON of prospects. It seems their supply of young arms is unlimited, and they have several impressive position players who are on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues. Remember, St. Louis had a really rough stretch — just like the Mets — during which they rebuilt their farm system. Though, I don’t remember that stretch lasting five years; it was more like one — 2007, to be exact. In 2008, the Cardinals added Gary LaRocque to their organization — you might know him as the man who signed David Wright. LaRocque began with St. Louis as Senior Special Assistant to general manager John Mozeliak, moved to player development, and is now their farm director. Just sayin’.
Brandon Nimmo looks to have quick hands / a fast bat.
Ike Davis struck out three times, and seems to be trying to destroy every pitch coming his way. He’s usually way ahead of everything, and looks like he’s trying to pull every pitch over the right field wall.
Most of the Cardinals hitters seemed to be focused on letting the ball get deep and hitting other way.
The Cardinals even have strong young arms in their outfield — prospect Stephen Piscotty flashed his howitzer in throwing out Nimmo at plate on an attempted sacrifice fly.
Everyone knows the Cardinals traded David Freese to the Angels for Peter Bourjos. However, the sleeper in that deal might be the throw-in — outfielder Randal Grichuk. Grichuk has a nicely balanced stance and swing, and is really strong. He blasted a double to the center-field wall, and I like his body language — he looks confident and fierce. At the plate, he reminds me — a lot — of David Wright (though it could just be the bushy eyebrows making me feel that way). He’s only 22 but has five years of pro ball under his belt. As if the Cardinals needed any more prospects.
Did you watch the game on MLB.com? If so, let me know what you saw.
Game two of the Mets’ preseason resulted in a 9-1 loss to the Miami Marlins. But these games don’t count, so who cares? Instead, let’s discuss what we saw in regard to individual ballplayers.
My random notes, which follow no rhyme or reason …
I’ve always been a Taylor Teagarden fan, and not sure why he never quite fulfilled the promise that he showed as a youngster. I mean, I know — he didn’t hit, and he had injury issues — but his swing looks pretty good, his arm is strong, and his catching mechanics are solid. Maybe it’s a mental thing.
Along the same lines, I still like Miami’s Rob Brantly behind the plate, though — barring injury — he won’t be seeing much time with the arrival of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Brantly receives well — good target, quiet, smooth lateral mobility, catches the “side” of the ball — and he blocks balls in the dirt better than most. He may not have enough stick to be an everyday backstop, but he should enjoy a long career as a backup.
I’ve also always liked Kevin Slowey, probably because I like pitchers who work quickly and throw strikes. His pitches were attracted to the plate like a magnet, and had good downward and parallel movement. He’s a fine #5 starter if he can stay healthy, which has always been a problem in his career.
Speaking of pitchers who throw strikes but have had unfortunate injury history, John Lannan was impressive in his two innings of work. He’s always been a bulldog, a tough S-O-B who makes the most of his limited talent and is ultra-competitive. He pounded all four corners of the strike zone, changing speed and location on nearly every pitch. His change-up, in particular, was well-placed with good sinking action. Apropos of nothing, on TV he doesn’t appear to be 6’4″ — maybe because he hunches over in his motion.
Kyle Farnsworth clearly is not the fireballer he was a few years ago (though he still has poor command); most of his pitches were between 83 and 88 MPH. The homerun hit by Austin Barnes was an 81-MPH pitch. Maybe he was working on things, and/or maybe he’s not yet in shape — but if it’s the latter, I’m surprised, as he does not have any guarantee to make the club, and one would think he’d come into camp ready to go and compete for a roster spot. Then again, it’s only his first appearance.
Lucas Duda demolished a chest-high, 90-MPH fastball over the middle of the plate by Arquimedes Caminero. Like Ike Davis on Friday, Duda can use all the confidence-boosting he can get. He’s swung the bat well and made contact in both ballgames this spring.
Josh Edgin had a rough outing. His pitches were up in the zone, and his fastball had neither movement nor great velocity (87-89 MPH). A few miscues in the field and lack of range by his defense didn’t help, either. Still, he couldn’t hit spots, was frequently out of the strike zone, and when he did throw strikes, they were too hittable. However, it was his first outing of the spring — plenty of time to improve.
Miami’s Matt Angle — a 28-year-old career minor-leaguer — has a batting stance and mannerisms that look almost exactly like those of Chase Utley. Angle, though, hasn’t hit quite as well as Utley in his pro career. But, he does have a .373 OBP and .744 OPS with 204 stolen bases through seven minor league seasons.
Cory Vaughn, Kevin Plawecki, and Brandon Nimmo — among others — made it into the ballgame in the later innings. It’s difficult to make any kind of analysis from a few plays and at-bats, but it’s interesting to see these kids “in the flesh” and participating in a ballgame.
Cory Mazzoni was also fun to see on the mound, after knowing him mostly only from scouting reports and stat sheets. He was throwing fairly hard — 93-94 MPH — but struggled with command. As with everyone else, it was his first spring appearance, so it’s not fair to make any kind of analysis. At the same time, if Mazzoni can top out at 94 in his first outing, why can’t Farnsworth break 90?
Vic Black also displayed good velocity, in the 92-95 range. His command, though, was not spectacular. Plenty of time to correct that.
There was discussion about the new MLB “experimental” rule regarding plays at home plate. I’ve been waiting all winter for the language of the rule, and, finally, it’s been posted — see it here at OnBaseball.com: MLB Rule 7.13, Home Plate Collisions. At first glance, I don’t understand nor like the rule. The rule book already stated that a fielder — regardless of the base at which he’s situated — cannot block the runner’s progression without the ball (see rule 7.06). Likewise, if a runner flagrantly assaults a fielder (with or without the ball), he can be called out and/or tossed from the ballgame. There has been much buzz about MLB clubs teaching their catchers how to field throws considering the “new” rule, but there’s nothing new — at least, not that I see. Catchers were never allowed to block the plate without possession of the ball, but they did it anyway and umpires never called obstruction. The only difference now is that it appears runners won’t be allowed to steamroll a catcher who is blocking the plate — though, how that will be judged seems subjective. Maybe we’ll get into this in further detail down the road, but, in my mind, there isn’t much to discuss — it’s a reinterpretation of an existing rule, but with extra language that may cause more confusion than anything else.
OK, what did YOU see in the Mets’ second game of spring training? Post your notes in the comments.
Here at MetsToday we focus on the process as much as the result during the regular season. In spring training, it’s ALL about the process. Let’s take a quick look at what was seen in the Mets’ first televised spring training game.
My apologies for the delay in posting these notes; I was in the air all day Friday flying back from a week-long business trip in the grand state of Texas.
First, notes from loyal MetsToday commenter “Argonbunnies,” lifted from the comments section of a previous post:
Montero’s control was excellent. Many pitches on the corner at the knees. He didn’t show any swing-and-miss stuff, and his secondary pitches lacked bite, but he’s only been in pro ball for 3 years so perhaps there’s still time for that to come. He should at least be a Brad Radke type.
DeGrom threw a lot of fastballs by people despite living at 91-93. Either he’s got some late hop or hitters just aren’t geared up for 93 in February.
Duda looks the same. Quick bat, good swing, but didn’t seem to be tracking the ball that well.
Josh Satin also looks the same. Patient, good eye, hit some line drives.
Ike reminded me of 2nd Half 2012 Ike — ready to punish mistakes.
Chris Young‘s bat looked slow. Hit an offspeed pitch hard, then swung late on a 91 MPH fastball down the middle.
Flores: at bat, he looked like he did last year before the injury — he made contact with some pitchers’ pitches, but for outs. In the field, he looked a little lighter on his feet when moving around, but he clanked his first chance.
Cesar Puello is a strong guy. His stance and swing remind me of Mark McGwire, though he’s not as big as Mac and doesn’t have that distinctive follow-through. The rocket double he grounded down the third base line was probably the loudest hit all day.
Nieuwenhuis looked overmatched at the plate, and didn’t do a great job fielding some balls off the wall.
None of the relievers pitched well. Germen’s change and Socolovich’s curve were the only secondary pitches that seemed even adequate. Walters kept his sinker down but apparently couldn’t throw anything else, so hitters teed off on it.
Good notes from Argon – thanks, buddy! My observations were similar, and I’ll add a few more:
For whatever reason, I noticed several hitters on both clubs over-using their upper half. It could be that I’m more sensitive than usual as I’m in the midst of teaching hitting in weekend winter camps at Akadema‘s ProPlayer Academy. Or, it could be that hitters’ timing is off, and/or they were over-swinging due to the excitement and anxiousness that comes with early spring games.
Plenty of praise for Montero’s “smooth mechanics.” To the naked eye, yes, his mechanics “look smooth.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything — it’s completely subjective. For the record, I agree — Montero’s motion does “look smooth,” but that doesn’t really tell me anything other than it is aesthetically pleasing. Upon closer inspection via my Casio High Speed Exilim EX-ZR-100 Digital Camera (at 240 frames per second) set up in front of the TV, a few mechanical flaws are seen that I plan to describe in the near future. In this first outing, Montero did perform as advertised in terms of throwing strikes.
As Argon mentioned, Ike Davis looks like he’ll still be able to hit mistakes — even if by mistake. One part of his game that still hasn’t changed, and may never change, is his perception of the strike zone. Good to see him put one over the fence right away — he needs all the confidence he can muster.
Wilmer Flores looks skinny compared to last year. I don’t know if less weight means quicker feet and better hands in the field, but we’ll find out over the next few weeks.
There was a brief discussion by the SNY team regarding the new replay rules, whereby the managers can challenge plays up until the seventh inning. To me it sounds complicated, but more importantly, it sounds like the challenges could result in more pauses and longer ball games. If indeed that’s the case, I fear that fan interest in MLB could wane, since the main complaint among today’s attention-lacking population is that games move too slowly.
That’s it for me. What did you see? Post in the comments.
Davis and Tejada had miserable seasons for the Mets last year. The Mets were counting on them to anchor first base and shortstop, respectively, but they both took a huge step in the wrong direction, on and off the field.
Davis got off to a terrible start in 2013, just as he did in 2012. Unlike 2012, he was unable to turn his season around. He hit only nine home runs all year after finishing with 32 in ’12. He argued often with umpires, and blamed his struggles on not getting enough pitches to hit. It was obvious that even when he did get a cookie down the middle, that his timing was completely off.
In 2012, his early struggles may have been a result of the case of Valley Fever he contracted prior to the season, or the fact that his 2011 campaign ended in May, resulting in a rusty swing. Last year, there were no excuses readily available for Davis. His plate selection was brutal and his swing was as long and hitchy as ever.
Yesterday, Mike Puma of the NY Post reported Davis actually played with an oblique injury in 2013. Davis kept the injury concealed, ostensibly to save his spot in the lineup. Davis responded to the report with anger, according to Adam Rubin:
On Monday morning, Davis loudly chastised the Post reporter who wrote the story in front of teammates and other media. The first baseman then told reporters he had merely acknowledged having a nagging injury for a couple of months before the oblique eventually popped — just as plenty of other players during the course of an MLB season have nagging injuries they do not report because they do not want to be pulled from the lineup.
Asked if Davis was mad enough to take a swing at him, Puma quipped, “if he takes a swing at me, he might miss.” Ba-zing!
As for Tejada, an anonymous source from the Mets organization apparently told the NY Post they were frustrated with his conditioning.
“He looks pretty much the same,” the source said, referring to the results of an offseason conditioning program Tejada attended. Well, of course he looks the same. He wasn’t exactly Mickey Lolich last year. Tejada’s always been pretty slim. The point of the conditioning program was more about improving his quickness and stamina than turning him into Mr. Universe.
Tejada’s always been the subject of the side-eye from Mets management. Manager Terry Collins admonished the shortstop for being late to Spring Training in 2012 (even though technically he was right on time). Tejada went on to have a solid year, hitting .289/.333/.351 while playing at least major league average defense.
Last year, the team lost confidence in him quickly when his averaged dropped to the Mendoza line, and his fielding ability underwent a noticeable decline.
If the Post’s source is legitimate, Tejada may find himself out of his position before Opening Day. The Mets are still interested in free agent Stephen Drew (though they don’t wish to overpay him), they are thinking about trading for Mariners’ shortstop prospect Nick Franklin, and they’re even giving Wilmer Flores reps at shortstop this Spring, a position he hasn’t played in three years (Flores attended the same fitness camp this year, and the team is happy with his agility).
No matter their potential, and no matter their talent, it seems like Davis and Tejada will never find success wearing orange and blue.
Sandy Alderson tried to trade Davis all offseason, but potential suitors found his asking price (usually a top pitching prospect) to be too steep. It may be in Alderson’s best interest to find a way to move Davis now, even it means lowering his standards for a return.
Should the Mets choose to find a new starting shortstop, Tejada can still provide value as a utility infielder, but being human, he has to feel a little betrayed by his own organization.
Whether the solution is moving them, or simply sitting them down and reconciling their differences, the problems surrounding Davis and Tejada could become a clubhouse drama all season long, unless they are dealt with now.
On the first day of spring training, Chris Young let the world know where the Mets stood in terms of their outfield — as quoted by Adam Rubin of ESPN-NY:
“I think we can be one of the best in baseball in the outfield,” the ex-Diamondback said. “You’re talking about guys with a lot of experience out there, a lot of speed, guys with good arms. Hopefully we can get on the good side of our pitchers, and hopefully they’ll love us out there.”
Young also made crystal-clear that his preferred position in the outfield is the center-most.
One thing about spring training is that it’s so full of optimism and hope. Everyone starts out February tied for first place. Fireballing young pitchers are poised to become the next Sandy Koufax. Strapping young hitters are about to win batting titles and homerun crowns. Managers talk about concentrating on “the little things,” such as baserunning and fundamentals. And fifth outfielders who suddenly become starters upon arrival for second-division clubs talk about being part of “one of the best outfields in baseball.” It happens every spring.
Oh, how I hate to be the realist in the room.
Of course, the Mets outfield won’t even be the best in New York, much less “baseball.” Though, it will definitely be “one of” the best outfields in New York — even if you count the ones in Syracuse and Buffalo. Though, the word “best” is subjective, and the phrase “one of” is vague. For all we know, Chris Young meant to say, “one of the best 20 outfields in baseball.”
I hope that’s what he meant, because taking a cursory glance at the outfields in MLB, there are quite a few that — on paper — look a lot more talented than the one expected to show up in Flushing.
Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, Jordan Schaefer.
Yeah, B.J. was awful last year — but Chris Young wasn’t much better. So, cancel those two out, and we’re left with Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares vs. Jason Heyward and B.J.’s brother. Which pair would you prefer?
Philadelphia Phillies: Domonic Brown, Marlon Byrd, Ben Revere, John Mayberry, Jr.
OK, this one is close, though it gets tough if you’re one of those Mets fans who thought Byrd was the bomb and will have another career year in 2014.
Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Yelich, Ben Bogusevic, Marcell Ozuna, Jake Marisnick.
Another close one, if only because we don’t know if 2014 will be the year that young phenoms Yelich, Marisnic, and Ozuna break out. Though, I’ll take Stanton by himself standing in center field over any three guys the Mets can put out there.
That’s just the NL East. How about we take a look at a handful of clubs outside the division …
Cardinals: Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Peter Bourjos, Oscar Taveras.
Bourjos is the weak link. Taveras might not make the big club out of spring training. Still, Craig and Holliday are pretty decent ballplayers.
Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer, Drew Stubbs, Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon.
Well, the Rox have a question mark in LF, but Dickerson hit .371 in AAA last year — not too shabby. Stubbs or Blackmon is the backup plan. Even if the Mets’ left fielder(s) is better, there is the matter of matching up to CarGo and Cuddyer.
Brewers: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Logan Schafer.
Again, there’s one spot where you might argue the Mets have a better player. And maybe Braun won’t hit so well without PEDs. In which case, maybe the Mets outfield will be better.
Padres: Carlos Quentin, Will Venable, Cameron Maybin, Seth Smith.
Finally! An outfield with more questions than the Mets. Quentin and Maybin have to be healthy, and if they are, chances are good that the Mets’ outfield won’t match up.
I’m not even going to delve into the Adulterated League because this discussion will get more ridiculous. It’s nice that Chris Young is feeling good about his club and his teammates, but there’s a point where one should filter thoughts before they cross the lips, lest they become the butt of a joke.
Maybe I’m wrong — maybe the Mets really could have “one of the best outfields in baseball,” whatever that means. Give me the brutal truth in the comments.
Breaking news: the New York Mets have signed lefthanded pitcher Dana Eveland.
Eveland pitched in Korea last year; he spent 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles. It’s hard for me to believe Eveland is already 30 years old; it seems like just yesterday, he was a 20-something starter whose future looked so bright, he was part of the trade that sent Dan Haren from Oakland to Arizona. Eveland will add to the pitching depth at AAA Las Vegas. Not a terrible move — a team can always use another lefthanded pitcher.
Speaking of the Orioles and 30-year-old pitchers, Baltimore signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50M contract. There was a time that Jimenez was one of the brightest young pitching phenoms in the game, then he became a righthanded Oliver Perez, then last year he resurrected himself just in time for a free-agent payday. I don’t know; that Ollie-like fall from grace, combined with his frightening mechanics, spell trouble. It will be interesting to see how that works out.
Fire away in the comments.
The Philadelphia Phillies signed starter A.J. Burnett to a one-year, $16M contract (that includes an option for a second year). In response, the Mets signed Jose Valverde to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training. Which deal will turn out better?
Both of these signings smell like a desperation moves. For Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, it’s a desperate attempt to make it appear as though his team could compete for the postseason; the reality is that he’ll need nearly every single player on the roster to drink from the fountain of youth in order to finish with more than 75-80 wins.
Meanwhile, this is Valverde’s last-ditch effort to remain a big-leaguer. “Papa Grande” was always and forever one of the most inconsistent and frightening relievers to watch, yet he somehow found a way to save 40+ games three times in his career, with three different teams. His last productive year was recent enough — 2012 — but he finished that year so poorly, the Tigers didn’t trust him to pitch in the postseason and cut ties with him that offseason. He wound up finding his way back to a beleaguered Detroit bullpen in late April of last year, and though he converted 9 of 12 save attempts, when he failed, he failed so spectacularly that the Tigers let him go. Maybe his methods were too much for aging Jim Leyland‘s heart. Maybe he still has something in the tank. If Detroit was too pressure-filled for Valverde, I can’t imagine him gaining his confidence back in the fishbowl that is New York. But we’ll see. It’s more paint for the Mets to throw on the wall, and there’s no risk, so the signing makes sense.
As for Burnett, he’s reinvented himself as a sinkerballer who pitches to contact. But I wonder how much he’ll be affected by the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park. He was smart not to return to the AL East, but he’ll have his challenges when pitching at home. I get why the Phillies signed him — they’re betting that starting pitching can carry them, and they figure they have more offense (when everyone is healthy) than the Mets and Marlins. But they’re still no closer to the Braves and Nationals, and, unless Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Domonic Brown all play 150+ games, they’re going to have to battle to stay out of the cellar.
What’s your thought? For the Mets, is it more cans of paint, the better? Do you think the Phillies have any shot at a Wild Card, now that they have A.J. Burnett? Post your notes in the comments.
“We’ll spend more…if the fans come to the games.”
Sandy Alderson, as quoted by Metsblog
Imagine any other product or service provider saying this to or about their customers! I am stunned that this comment hasn’t been more widely picked up on and discussed. Where is the outrage? Maybe most of the fan base has drifted into apathetic indifference. Granted, Metsblog is not the most reliable of sources. But, still…
Speaking of Metsblog, I had to chuckle at Maggie’s reaction to the PECOTA projection of 74 wins for the Mets this season. Mags worked real hard to put together an “if everything breaks right” scenario and ended up at 78 wins! That certainly made me feel better.
At the risk of sounding out of date, this offseason is an Epic Fail for the Mets front office. I don’t care how many phenom arms they think they have. If you can’t score runs, you won’t win ballgames. Project any starting eight for the Mets based on the current roster. No matter how you slice it, you get several players with .sub 225 batting averages strung together in the lineup. That makes for play that is both bad and boring.
If you can take it, check out last year’s offensive production. Met non-pitchers hit for a slash line of 244/314/379. That’s good for 14th, 12th and 14th respectively in the 15-team National League. That OPB was driven in part by 500 walks to non-pitchers, good for fourth in the league. But unless the plan this year is to string multiple walks together each inning, the Mets’ lack of speed and power, coupled with a propensity to strike out, (Met non-pitchers struck out 1,245 times, tops in the National League) offsets any benefit from the bases on balls. If an amateur GM like me can see this, then Sandy the Genius should be all over it, right? So who did he go out and get to boost the offense? Try Curtis Granderson, who slashed his way to 229/317/407 in 2013 and Chris B. Young, who finished 200/280/379. In other words, their only two offensive imports performed worse than the average Mets batter did in 2013. Yeah, I get it that Grandy was hurt in 2013, but his track record is littered with similar results. Young hasn’t been good since 2010. Oh, and they both strike out a lot.
So when the smoke clears, the Mets are very likely to have added between three and five new players into the mix of guys they used in 2013’s stellar 74-88 campaign. Three of them are locks: Granderson, Young and Bartolo Colon. John Lannan has a 50/50 chance to stick and I’ll give the 25th spot to NRI Anthony Seratelli because he’s the type of player Alderson and Manager Terry Collins seem to love. The rest of the team is that same crew that went 33-38 after the All Star break (not .500 as Sandy has been quoted saying) and 9-19 down the stretch against teams vying for a playoff spot.
To paraphrase Denny Green, players like Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Eric Young Jr. , Anthony Recker and Omar Quintanilla are who we think they are, which is either slightly above or slightly below replacement level players. With the possible exception the 23-year old Tejada, we have seen their best and their worst. Is Niese going to suddenly rip off a series of 17-plus win seasons? Will Parnell become a shutdown reliever in the Trevor Hoffman mode? Can Murphy ever hit .320 again or Ike blast 30 homers? At 27, will Duda ever “put it all together?” I’ll answer my own questions: no, no, no, no and no. Performances aside, none of them are the marquee names that fill the family mini-vans across the Tri-State area and get them pointed in the direction of Citi Field. And by the way, Parnell is still hurt.
I don’t get the adulation for Alderson. This is the silver anniversary of the only world title he ever won as a GM, (which was aided by both steroids and an earthquake). If you dare, Google the GM careers of his assistants Paul DePodesta and JP Ricciardi. Keith Law’s recent ranking of the Mets’ farm system at #6 sent a jolt through the blogosphere, but history cautions against too much euphoria over prospect rankings. Very few of them ever live up to expectations, due to injuries, major league scouting and their having to now compete against the very best.
My sense is that Jhonny Peralta was the big target for Alderson and Co. and by the time they recovered from sticker shock, it was too late. Wouldn’t it have been better if they signed him at his price, perhaps offsetting some of that money by non-tendering Ike, Duda, and Tejada? They could have easily picked up someone in the Lyle Overbay mold on a minor league deal to cover first. While the Brewers and the Orioles rejected an Ike-for-pitching-prospects deal, perhaps if the Mets substituted Murphy for Ike they could have pulled one of those deals off, leaving EYJ and Wilmer Flores to split time at second. They then could have waited out the market for Nelson Cruz instead of signing Granderson. This would be the equivalent of dropping a bomb on the 2013 team, which is what they promised to do at the end of last season. By my calculations, they could have done this for about the same (if not less) money. And I thought Alderson invented Moneyball.
PS: Pundits everywhere have written some fine Ralph Kiner eulogies since his passing, most of them focusing on his storytelling, his sense of humor, the fact that he dated movie starlets and his “what if?” baseball career. Not to be lost in the tapestry of these tales is/was his deep understanding of the game itself. His broadcasts with Tim McCarver in the mid 1980’s represent the zenith of baseball announcing, a banner that fortunately for us, has been picked up by the Mets current SNY broadcast crew.
Ralph’s eye for the game didn’t decrease with age. On July 26, 2012 Matt Harvey made his major league debut against the Diamondbacks in Arizona and Ralph was in the booth for that game. During Harvey’s 6-inning, 11-strikeout performance, Kiner stated that the Mets had found their next Tom Seaver. I remember chortling to myself over that remark and wondered if Jeffy hadn’t slipped Ralph a box of Cubans to say that.
My apologies for doubting your integrity, Ralph. Thanks for all the great memories, including this one.
This is hardly a news site — isn’t that what Twitter is for? — so you may have already heard that Fernando Rodney was made a Mariner, Bronson Arroyo agreed to a deal with the Diamondbacks, Francisco Rodriguez is returning to Milwaukee, and Luis Ayala has signed a minor-league contract with the Washington Nationals.
Rodney received a two-year, $14M contract to bolster the bullpen in Seattle. The 37-year-old presumably will enter spring training as the closer, while Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen — who combined for 40 saves last year — will slot into setup roles. I don’t know about Rodney; he had that historical 2012 season, and had a high strikeout rate last year, but he’s otherwise been a middling middle reliever throughout his career. Also, for what it’s worth (not much, I’m sure), I don’t like the way Rodney wears his hat. There’s something fishy about that ’12 campaign, and I get the feeling that the 2014 Mariners could be the 2013 Blue Jays — plenty of big moves in the winter leading to high expectations, but the team falling like a house of cards by June.
Arroyo, also 37, agreed to a two-year, $23M deal with the Diamondbacks. That’s what durability costs in today’s market. Never considered spectacular, there’s one thing Arroyo does, and that is, take the ball every fifth day. He’s never been on the disabled list in his MLB career, and he pitched 200+ innings in 8 of the past 9 years. The one year he didn’t reach 200, he pitched 199 — while fighting mononucleosis, Valley Fever, and whooping cough, and losing 17 pounds. Personally, I thought he’d be a good fit for the Mets, but they chose to spend the big bucks on Bartolo Colon — presumably because Sandy Alderson’s strategy was to pay for upside, rather than consistency, this winter. Was it the right decision? We’ll know in about 6-7 months.
K-Rod returns to the Brewers for one year, $3.25M. No longer a lights-out closer, Rodriguez will team up with Brandon Kintzler to set up Jim Henderson. I don’t care for K-Rod, but he pitched well last year and seems to have settled into a middle-reliever role.
Carlos Marmol signed a one-year, $1.25M deal with the Miami Marlins. Marmol was a disaster with the Cubs for the past few years, but turned things around in Los Angeles in the final two months of 2013. Did he merely need a change of scenery? Not sure. He’s always been shaky, but for “only” $1.25M, seems like a good gamble for the Fish. He figures to fight for a setup role with Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, Carter Capps, and others. I don’t know if the Mets kicked the tires on Marmol, but I get the feeling he wouldn’t fit well in NYC, nor Dan Warthen.
Ayala received a minor-league contract and spring training invite from the Nats. Washington already has Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus, and Jerry Blevins in their bullpen, so Ayala will have a tough time earning a job.
Beyond whether these particular pitchers were good fits in Flushing, are you seeing a pattern? Teams are building up the back-end of their bullpens with three primary guys rather than one, and rotations are being made deeper than they were a few years ago. It was unusual when the Mets acquired K-Rod and J.J. Putz in the same winter, but now, it’s normal for a contending club to stockpile closers. And, over the past two years, it could have been argued that the Mets’ starting rotation depth was a strength, but presently, it’s not necessarily an advantage — not when so many teams seem to have 4-5 solid starters heading into spring training.
There was buzz that the Mets were in on Rodney, and now that he and Rodriguez are off the table, I’m not sure who is left to add to the bullpen in Flushing. Joel Hanrahan threw a “light” bullpen session (whatever that means) for the Mets recently, and Andrew Bailey remains unemployed, but both had major reconstructive arm surgeries less than 10 months ago. Rafael Betancourt is also coming off of surgery and will reportedly only return to the Rockies. Ryan Madson might be a good gamble, though he also is coming off a surgery (though, not as recent) and hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2011. Among the relievers who are presumably healthy and available include ageless wonders Kevin Gregg and Octavio Dotel. Lefty Mike Gonzalez is still unsigned, but he has not been very good since 2009. I don’t envision a reunion with Oliver Perez, and he’s really a LOOGY anyway. If there’s anyone else on the market, I would think that the Orioles would be all over him.
That said, it’s looking like the Mets’ big addition to the bullpen is Kyle Farnsworth — if he can make the team. Bobby Parnell is coming off of neck/back surgery and hopefully will be 100% by Opening Day as he’s the closer. Everyone is hot on Vic Black but he pitched all of 13 innings last year, most of them in September. We’ll get into the Mets relief candidates in a future post, but for now, it appears that an addition to the Mets bullpen won’t be happening before pitchers and catchers report. How do you feel about that? Answer in the comments.
Long time Mets broadcaster and Hall of Fame outfielder Ralph Kiner has passed away at the age of 91 due to natural causes.
Mets chairman Fred Wilpon reased a statement:
“Ralph Kiner was one of the most beloved people in Mets history — an original Met and extraordinary gentleman. After a Hall of Fame playing career, Ralph became a treasured broadcasting icon for more than half a century. His knowledge of the game, wit and charm entertained generations of Mets fans.
“Like his stories, he was one of a kind. We send our deepest condolences to Ralph’s five children and 12 grandchildren. Our sport and society today lost one of the all-time greats.”
There are no words I can put together to pay proper tribute to the man. He was the voice of my summers growing up, along with Bob Murphy. When I heard their voices in March, I knew baseball was back.
He taught me the basics of how to play the game, and opened my eyes to the techniques of hitting that I’d never considered before. He also taught me about the history of the game. I learned of the likes of 3 Finger Mordecai Brown, Heinie Manush, and other colorful characters from the past (or at least the ones with colorful names), and got an idea of what baseball was like long before there was such a thing as Shea Stadium or the Mets.
When I worked for WWOR, the Mets production staff always had good things to say about Ralph. They saw him as a genuine, warm, and kind individual. They weren’t just saying that – believe me, they didn’t always have the same things to say about other broadcasters who passed through the booth.
The Mets community and major league baseball lost a great one today. Thanks for everything you did, Ralph.
Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section (as always).
I love stats. I’ve been a baseball stathead since I was a kid. I kept track of my own batting average in Little League as well as walks, extra base hits (those were easy – there weren’t many of them), and RBIs. I used to check the box scores in The Record every morning to see what the Mets’ updated stats looked like after the previous night’s game (Unless the game was on the west coast – ahhh, the dark ages), and I’ve continued that habit into the present day.
Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve been familiarizing myself with sabermetrics. I like them. I find them useful. Especially the ones I can understand. Advanced metrics have given me a whole new perspective on the careers of baseball players today, and a renewed appreciation of players from the past.
The one relatively new development I haven’t gotten on board with is the concept of statistical projections.
Projection systems – like PECOTA (which was released today for the 2014 season), ZiPS, or Steamer – are usually based on the average performance of a player over the last 3-4 years, taking into account decline or improvement caused by age and other factors. They’re meant to be an objective measurement of what a ballplayer is supposed to be based on his track record.
First of all, how accurate are they? Let’s look at projections for a few Mets players for the 2013 season, and how they stacked up against reality. These are based on the ZiPS algorithm:
ZiPS assumed Wright would play a full season, despite the fact that he missed a good chunk of 2011 with broken back induced by a collision with Ike Davis. For this, I give ZiPS credit. One of my major pet peeves with projection systems is that they’ll take an injury from 3 years ago, and no matter how freakish or isolated it was, they’ll assume that the player will miss a significant chunk of time in his subsequent years.
As it turned out, Wright missed a month and a half with a hamstring pull. Had David put up 610 plate appearances in 2013, his doubles and RBI totals would have been close to the ZiPS projection. He would have hit a few more home runs, however, and ZiPS completely missed his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. This is probably due to the fact that he hit .254/.345/.427 in 2011 (while playing with the back injury), which was a statistical outlier when you look at his entire career.
Two of the biggest misses ZiPS came up with last year were Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis. I’m going to throw those out because of how badly they deviated from their previous trends. Not even the most carefully crafted software program could have seen that coming.
One player that ZiPS seems to have the most success with is Daniel Murphy. Here are his 2013 results:
ZiPS predicted fewer plate appearances because of his 2011 injury. I’m not sure why it factored Murphy’s injury into his projected plate appearances, but didn’t factor Wright’s into his.
If ZiPS had the number of PAs right, the rest of his stats would have been very close. ZiPS also came close to accurately projecting Murph’s 2012 numbers.
Anyone with a strong knowledge of baseball stats can look at a player’s career trends and make an educated guess about the kind of season he’s about to have. You don’t necessarily need a supercomputer to do so. But if I’m compiling projections for every player in the league (plus minor leaguers), then you’d better believe I’m going to have a CPU do it for me.
So, while I still believe blind reliance on projections would be ill-advised, I can see how they can be useful. They can help a front office decide what they have, which in turn helps them decide what they need. I would still treat them as just one of many tools in the box, however, since their accuracy can fluctuate.
I know, I know — I’m a little late on this big news. My apologies.
The Mets have signed 15-year veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training. If the 37-year-old righthander makes the big club out of spring training, he gets $1M guaranteed, and can earn up to another $1.5M in incentives.
Considering what the Mets’ bullpen options, what’s available on the open market, and the low risk / low cost involved, this appears to be a good move. What do the Mets have to lose?
Farnsworth’s approach throughout the majority of his career has been based on velocity: challenging hitters with his 95+ fastball, up in the zone, with the goal of striking out every hitter he faced. And for most of his career, he’s been largely disappointing for someone with such a unique gift to throw fireballs. Oh, he’d strike out 10 or 11 batters per nine innings, but he’d also often give up too many walks, hits, and homeruns for the strikeout rates to matter — kind of like Bobby Parnell‘s first few years in the bigs. Farnsworth would have a good year, bad year, good year, bad year — never quite putting together a string of dominance.
Then in 2011, he completely switched his game from four-seam fastballs and hard sliders to a mix of predominantly sinkers, a substantial amount of sliders, enough four-seamers to keep the batters honest, and a sprinkling of cutters to keep them thinking. The result was a career year, in which he pitched more to contact and converted 25 saves, posting a 2.18 ERA and a sub-1.00 WHIP. That high didn’t last long — he saved only four games since, posting 4.70 and 5.76 ERAs in ’12 and ’13. In a brief stint in Pittsburgh last year (9 appearances and 8 innings), however, Farnsworth performed fairly well, striking out 9 and allowing one run (a solo homer).
Maybe being out of the NL for a few years and adding more pitches to his repertoire is an advantage that Farnsworth can use for the first few months of the season. There is talk that his velocity has been down, but Fangraphs is reporting only a mild reduction in his four-seamer — 94.5 MPH average last year, as opposed to the 95+ in the past. Though, both his slider lost 3 MPH — which is significant — and his cutter lost 2 MPH, while his sinker also lost a little more than a MPH. Looking briefly at some video, it appears to me that his arm is a bit more behind his lower body than I remember from the past, so his timing his off and he’s putting more pressure on his shoulder. It could very well be that his slider’s velocity was more instrumental in his effectiveness than the explosive fastball, and he’ll continue to struggle in keeping hitters off balance going forward.
Still, there’s little risk here for the Mets — they’ll see by mid-March if his stuff can get hitters out. If it can, the most the Mets will have to pay is $2.5M, and that’s about right if Farnsworth can pitch well enough to find himself into about 45-50 games as a 6th- and 7th-inning situational reliever.
Thoughts? Post them in the comments.
I always wanted to see my name in headlines …
No worries, I’m not packing up for Colorado to be the Rockies’ bullpen catcher. Rather, Paul Janish has signed a minor-league deal with the Rox. In addition to having a great surname, the shortstop has great hands, strong arm, and stellar glove. Unfortunately, he can’t hit — essentially, he’s a modern-day Mario Mendoza. He’s so poor offensively, I don’t allow him to pronounce his last name correctly, to save the family from embarrassment.
Seriously, though, in which scenario would the Mets be better off, in the event Ruben Tejada went down? Omar Quintanilla‘s below-average to average defense and .220 hitting, or Paul Janish’s excellent defense and .190-.210 hitting? In similar MLB time, Quintanilla has a career .584 OPS (in 1131 plate appearances), while Janish is at .572. (1206 PA). Strangely enough, Janish puts the ball in play more often than one might expect for such a low-average hitter — he’s struck out 175 times in his career, or about once every 7 plate appearances (6.9 to be exact). That’s not very good, but I’d expect more whiffs from a guy who is constantly struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line (in contrast, Quintanilla has struck out 233 times, or once about every 5 times to the plate (4.85).
What’s the point? Personally, if I can’t get much offense at a position, then I’d like to at least get very good defense if possible. The two positions on the field where I’d consider giving up offense completely in return for outstanding defense are catcher and shortstop, because I believe that defense at those two positions can have more of an impact on winning (or losing) than any other place on the field (well, except for the guy standing on the little hill in the middle of the diamond). But, that’s just me; I’m sure there are stats somewhere that completely squash my theory.
Not that it matters — what’s done is done. Quintanilla is back with the Mets, and Janish is with the Rockies. And I just had a great excuse to type “Janish” a half-dozen times.
What’s your thought? If it’s not Ruben Tejada at shortstop — for whatever reason — are you happy with Quintanilla? Would you prefer someone with a better glove? Would you go with a lesser glove, and better bat? Would you like to see me warming up pitchers in Colorado? Sound off in the comments.
The Kansas City Royals recently re-signed former Met Bruce Chen to a one-year, $3M contract that includes an option for 2015. To make room on the 40-man roster for Chen, KC designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment. Will the Mets make a play for the speedy utlityman?
The 28-year-old Bonifacio has played at least 100 MLB games each in the outfield, at second base, and third base, and appeared at shortstop 97 times. Personally, based on his skill set, I think of him primarily as a second baseman — if, say, he was to become a regular at one position, that’s where I’d see him being most valuable.
Throughout his big-league career, the switch-hitting Bonifacio has had an inconsistent approach at the plate. At times, he’s been an undisciplined, wild and aggressive swinger, while at other times, he’s shown an ability to be more patient at the plate. His best year offensively was in 2011, when he played 156 games and batted .290 with a .360 OBP. A big reason for that big season? Heeding the advice (or was it demand?) by manager Jack McKeon to take more pitches and focus on getting on base. Bonifacio flourished under McKeon’s direction, taking over as the everyday leadoff man in late June of ’11 while playing multiple positions. The position he played most often that year? Shortstop — 67 times. He was far from spectacular as a shortstop, but, no worse than, say, Omar Quintanilla.
Of course, we know from advanced metrics that managers have absolutely no affect on a team, or individual player’s, on-field performance. But the old-schoolers may appreciate the McKeon – Bonifacio story — stories, for some, are more entertaining than numbers. Oh, and for what it’s worth, Bonifacio’s career (and on-base percentage) slid in 2012 — when Ozzie Guillen took over the Marlins. A coincidence, I’m sure, since Bonifacio didn’t do well for John Gibbons in Toronto, either — though, he did produce for Ned Yost, after being traded to the Royals and installed as the starting second baseman and #2 hitter in the lineup.
From the first time I saw Bonifacio play, I thought, “wow, imagine how this guy’s game would play in Citi Field.” He has great athleticism and is one of the fastest players in the game — two traits that are rewarded and valued when playing in a large park. I will never, ever understand why the Mets don’t work with, instead of against, the vast expanse of The Park at Shea Bridge, but perhaps someday it will be explained.
So, let’s review:
- The Mets need a leadoff batter
- The Mets need a utilityman who can at least fill in at shortstop
- The Mets could use real competition for Ruben Tejada at shortstop
- Speed and athleticism plays well in the Mets’ home park
- The Mets have no money and few trade chips to acquire anyone of value
- Emilio Bonifacio has had success as a leadoff batter
- Emilio Bonifacio is a super utilityman who can play shortstop
- Emilio Bonifacio was a regular SS for a brief period
- Emilio Bonifacio is athletic and fast
- Emilio Bonifacio has been DFA’d, so will require little to acquire
Is it me, or is this a no-brainer? I’m not suggesting that Bonifacio is the Mets’ answer at shortstop — or anywhere specific, for that matter. But couldn’t you see him batting leadoff every day for the Mets, moving among 2B, SS, LF, RF, CF, and occasionally giving David Wright a breather at 3B?
Shouldn’t the Mets be on the phone with the Royals immediately to work out a deal? Tell me in the comments if I’m missing something.
Despite the fact the Mets already have a glut of first basemen, they signed another one: Matt Clark.
What do you mean, you never heard of Matt Clark? The strapping, lefthanded-hitting slugger posted a career .853 OPS in five minor-league seasons, highlighted by a 28-HR, 97-RBI year in AA in 2010 and a .872 OPS in the PCL as recently as 2012. Unfortunately for Clark, he was property of the San Diego Padres through 2012, and thus blocked by the likes of Jesus Guzman and Yonder Alonso (ironically, though, he was able to move ahead of current Mets property Allen Dykstra on the Padres’ organization depth chart). So, he left for the Far East, and last year, was Big In Japan, hitting 25 homers for the Chunichi Dragons.
Almost simultaneously to the announcement of this signing, Mets manager Terry Collins told SNY TV viewers that Ike Davis would get “maybe 80 to 100 at-bats” in spring training. If Davis will get that many reps, I’m not sure how all the other players competing for a 1B role will get at-bats.
For what it’s worth, several outlets are reporting that Matt Clark is a “first baseman / outfielder.” From what I’ve heard about Clark’s footwork and level of athleticism, he’s likely as much an “outfielder” as Lucas Duda. Further, Clark has played all of 76 minor-league games in the outfield, and only one since 2011.
According to the New York Post, Mets ownership is close to refinancing a $250 million dollar loan. The re-fi is expected to give the team more financial flexibility:
Until recently, it wasn’t certain investors weren’t going to insist the team owners pay down some of the loan to get the refinancing done.
Wilpon and Katz will not be asked for any cash paydown, sources said.
Plus, interest payments are expected to stay about the same, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.
The Mets spent about $87 million on free agents this offseason – a marked jump in spending from the past few years, in particular last offseason, when they spent only $5 million. Perhaps optimism about this re-fi was part of the reason the Wilpons felt comfortable loosening their wallets this winter.
They’re still not spending with the big boys – and no one is going to outspend the Yankees, whether you play in New York or not – but the point is to have the financial flexibility to make the moves you have to make, rather than settling on a team full of minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training.
I doubt this news will inspire any more huge transactions this offseason – Stephen Drew is still in play, but the Mets seem to be treating him as a nice-to-have, not a must-have.
As much as I’ve been critical of the Wilpons, they are at least making an active effort to get out from under the debt left to them by Bernie Madoff.
I hope the next time Fred Wilpon says his financial troubles are over, like he did last year, that it’s really the truth.
This is a few days late, but in case you haven’t heard, the Mets have signed Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
The Mets have decided to give Dice-K a chance to continue his legendary Human Rain Delay act in 2014 — one that would make Steve Trachsel and Mike Hargrove proud, and the rest of us cry. If Matsuzaka makes the big club, he gets a $1.5M contract.
As much as I cannot — and usually will not — stand watching him labor through five innings with all the speed of a terrestrial gastropod mollusc, this signing makes plenty of sense for the Mets. Having Dice-K and John Lannan as backup plans behind the very sketchy competition of Jenrry Mejia and Carlos Torres for the fifth-starter role.
I get the feeling that Mejia will pitch well enough, and avoid injury long enough, to earn a role on the pitching staff come April. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be the #5 starter, nor does it mean Mejia will remain healthy through June — and that’s why the Mets need both Lannan and Matsuzaka in the mix. Not to mention, we have no idea if Jonathon Niese‘s shoulder is going to last through six months of a big league season, and who knows what other random ailment will befall a Mets starter at some point.
Again, I find watching grass growing, paint drying, or fossils forming to be more exciting than witnessing Daisuke Matsuzaka slog through a ballgame, but, at this point in the winter, it’s a signing that makes sense for the Mets.
Your reaction? Post it in the comments.
Item of the Day
What’s more exciting than watching Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch a half-inning of baseball? Watching grass grow, of course! Order your Hydroponic Organic Wheatgrass Growing Kit today, and have it ready to watch (instead of Dice-K) when exhibition games begin in late February. In all seriousness, this is a good kit if you’re interested in growing wheat grass — I ordered this kit myself and have successfully grown several crops of bright green, healthy wheat grass. It was easy-peasy and since there’s no dirt, there was no mess. If you don’t have a proper juicer for the wheat grass, I highly recommend the Lexen – Healthy Juicer GP27 – Manual Wheatgrass Juicer — it’s the one that I use, and it works great for wheat grass (I haven’t tried it with anything else).