Archive for March, 2014

By Steven Inman

The Phillies didn't believe the 40-year old Abreu could contribute in 2014

The Phillies didn’t believe the 40-year old Abreu could contribute in 2014

The Mets have signed Bobby Abreu to a minor-league deal. Abreu will report to Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets liked Abreu a lot this winter with his high OBP despite his advanced age. We wrote about the Mets interest in Abreu this off season here. Abreu didn’t make the Phillies roster and was granted his release.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Abreu really shouldn’t be playing the foutield anymore and the Mets already have three first base only players on their roster. Adding a DH only like Abreu can’t help Terry Collins’ roster flexibility.

Abreu, 40, last played in the majors in 2012 with the Dodgers and hasn’t been a big league regular since 2011 with the LA Angels.

By Steven Inman

Bobby Parnell couldn't convert the save for the Mets on Opening Day  Photo by NY Daily News

Bobby Parnell couldn’t convert the save for the Mets on Opening Day
Photo by NY Daily News

The Mets started off their season well with a three-run homer in the first inning from Andrew Brown who was filling in for the injured Chris Young, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Nationals. The Mets fell 9-7 in 10 innings. A strong start from Dillon Gee and three homers from the offense were not enough to overcome a struggling bullpen.

Sandy Alderson has been in charge of the Mets for four years now and the bullpens he has put together have always been the worst or close to the worst in baseball. That is actually really hard to do. Somehow this pen may be even worse than in years past. We wrote in our Mets season preview that this bullpen would wind up ending their season eventually but they looked even worse than originally thought today. You can check out that Mets preview here.

Bobby Parnell is a major concern as he used to throw 97-100 mph and today was just 89-93 and seemed to have trouble putting away hitters. He had the Mets one strike away from winning the game several times but just couldn’t shut them down. His velocity is a major concern for this team as Parnell is simply not 100% right now. He can’t be effective without throwing hard.

Jose Valverde and Gonzalez Germen were the only relievers in the entire Mets pen to not get bombed and Germen didn’t even pitch.

The other concern is the high amount of strikeouts this Mets team had today. Part of that is because of Stephen Strasburg but everyone in this lineup today is a high strikeout player. It is another cause for concern. The Mets had 30 outs to play with today and struck out in 18 of them. The opponent cannot make many mistakes when you aren’t even challenging their defense.

It is only one game but these two issues will continue to plague the Mets all season and they don’t seem to have any answers internally for them.

There were some positives on Opening Day as well with Juan Lagares looking great at the plate including the go ahead homer at the time in the 8th inning. If he could just hit .275 he will be a star. Also David Wright had three hits including a two run homer. Valverde got three strikeouts in his 1.1 innings of work. Lastly Dillon Gee looked very sharp but had one inherited runner score thanks to the bullpen not throwing strikes.

The Mets will try again for their first win of the year with Bartolo Colon facing Gio Gonzalez.

Do you think today’s game will be a trend or just a coincidence?

By Steven Inman

Daniel Murphy and Chris Young are both OUT for Opening Day vs. the Nationals. Young is dealing with a mild calf strain as well as the flu. Murphy is still in Florida as his wife is about to give birth. Both players are expected to return Wednesday. Here is the lineup that Stephen Strasburg will face at 1:10 p.m.

1. Eric Young Jr. 2Bphoto

2. Juan Lagares CF

3. David Wright 3B

4. Curtis Granderson RF

5. Andrew Brown LF

6. Ike Davis 1B

7. Travis d’Arnaud C

8. Ruben Tejada SS

9. Dillon Gee P

By Steven Inman

Andrew McCutchen should help Pittsburgh compete for a playoff spot again in a tough N.L. Central

Andrew McCutchen should help Pittsburgh compete for a playoff spot again in a tough N.L. Central

With Opening Night just a few hours away it is time to break down the entire National League. We normally do strictly the N.L. East here on BrokeMets but it is always fun to make preseason predictions. Post your own predictions for all division winners in the comment section and we will see who gets it right at the end of the year.

N.L. East

The 2013 N.L. East Champion Braves have taken a step back with the losses of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy in their rotation due to Tommy John surgery. The team also lost Tim Hudson in free agency to the SF Giants. The team will go as far as their new rotation can take them led by Julio Teheran and the already injured Mike Minor. Freedie Freeman should be an MVP candidate once again.

The Nationals should be the favorite here with a stacked rotation and a solid lineup top to bottom. This could be the year where Bryce Harper breaks out. The Miami Marlins continue to stockpile young talent and Jose Fernandez should be a Cy Young candidate yet again, this time with no innings limit. The Phillies continue to get older and older without getting better and should continue to slide in the standings. The Mets are likely somewhere in between.

  1.       Washington Nationals
  2.       Atlanta Braves
  3.       New York Mets
  4.       Miami Marlins
  5.       Philadelphia Phillies

 

N.L. Central

The St. Louis Cardinals continue to be the class of the division if not the entire National League. They continue to bring up young players that seem to contribute immediately. They get a full year out of Michael Wacha this season as well as Matt Adams playing everyday at first base. Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez will form a dynamic back end of the bullpen. Both players are expected to be starters at some point but the Cardinals simply don’t have the room in their rotation.

The Pirates should take a step back to open the year as they look to be a bat and a pitcher short. They may get both those pieces soon however with prospects Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon. The Reds should also take a step back with the loss of Shin-Soo Choo. It will be interesting to see if his replacement Billy Hamilton can hit enough to capitalize on all of his speed. The Brewers and Cubs are still rebuilding  but the Cubs look like they are getting closer with some interesting hitting prospects getting very close.

  1. St. Louis Cardinals

    Top Prospect Oscar Tavares is just waiting for a spot in a loaded Cardinals lineup

    Top Prospect Oscar Tavares is just waiting for a spot in a loaded Cardinals lineup

  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Milwaukee Brewers

N.L. West

The N.L. West is the Dodgers to lose. With the star power they have there they should be one of the early favorites for the World Series. They need to keep their starting rotation healthy and if they do they should have no problems winning this division.

The Diamondbacks are interesting because they have a lot of players coming off down years. Players like Martin Prado, Cody Ross and Aaron Hill all are veterans with a track record, now with something to prove. Archie Bradley will start the year in the minors but has little left to show down there. It is more of a service time situation but once he comes up he should be the early favorite for N.L. Rookie of the Year. Losing All-Star Patrick Corbin badly hurt the Diamondbacks chances of competing with the Dodgers.

The Giants look to be in no mans land with a great rotation but not enough offense. They have won two championships with this same core though so they can’t be ruled out. They are trying to negotiate a deal with Pablo Sandoval but he is currently asking for an absurd amount of money and he looks likely to have a big year and go to free agency.

The Rockies can never be ruled out but they just don’t have the pitching to compete. They badly need Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to stay healthy. When the two are playing together the team is very good. The Padres just don’t seem to have any sort of offense this year and lack the front line pitching needed to compete consistently.

The Rockies must keep Cargo and Tulo healthy if they want to compete in '14

The Rockies must keep Cargo and Tulo healthy if they want to compete in ’14

  1. LA Dodgers
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks
  3. SF Giants
  4. Colorado Rockies
  5. San Diego Padres

MVP: Paul Goldschmidt

NL ROY: Archie Bradley

CY Young: Jose Fernandez

Manager of the year: Matt Williams

I’m giving the Diamondbacks the ROY and the MVP but it will not be enough to overtake the Dodgers. Goldschmidt deserved the MVP last season and if he puts up similar numbers this season he should win it. Bradley looks like a star in the making and should make the snakes a fun team to watch in the desert. Matt Williams takes over an underachieving Nationals team. They should understand that they can’t take this race for granted. If they play up to their potential they should win and first year manager Matt Williams should win Manager of the year. Fernandez is as good as they get and makes Marlins games a must watch when he is on the mound. The question with him will be will he get enough run support to win a Cy Young.

What are your predictions for the National League????

 

By Steven Inman

David Wright and Daniel Murphy will once again be relied upon to carry the Mets lineup Photo by NY Post

David Wright and Daniel Murphy will once again be relied upon to carry the Mets lineup
Photo by NY Post

It is almost here, the greatest day of the year, Opening Day. Just 48 hours from now we will be enjoying Mets baseball once again. So now it is time to breakdown their upcoming season.

Infield: The infield is the only part of the team that Sandy Alderson didn’t address this winter. Ike Davis likely gets the first crack at being the lefty platoon at first base with Josh Satin. With the team going to play the LA Angels in the second week of the season they will need a DH so Lucas Duda should still see plenty of at-bats early on in April.  Having three first basemen on the roster certainly hurts Terry Collins’ roster flexibility which may need to be addressed at some point.

Ruben Tejada is still here and looks to be the guy at shortstop despite a poor 2013 season and a rough Spring Training to say the least. Wilmer Flores with a strong spring has put himself in a position to be Plan B at shortstop despite being sent to the minors. Omar Quintanilla will make the team as the backup middle infielder.

Travis d’Arnaud goes into the season with a lot to prove but is still just a rookie. He was having a rough spring with the bat until this past week so it looks like he is getting hot at the perfect time for New York. Many expect him to compete for Rookie of the Year in the National League. He likely will start the year down near the bottom of the order.

Obviously the Mets have two quality hitters at third base and second base with David Wright and Daniel Murphy respectively. The duo just needs to stay healthy as they will be expected to continue to anchor the Mets lineup. Murphy needs to improve upon his OBP if he wants to stay a Met long-term.

Outfield: The Mets spent most of their offseason budget on their outfield which looks to have improved. Curtis Granderson was an overpay coming off a lost year but he will certainly help give David Wright protection and put less pressure on guys like Ike Davis and Travis d’Arnaud who can bat lower in the lineup now.

Chris Young is the X-Factor for this Mets team. He is coming off a lost year for the AL West champion Athletics but has looked very good offensively and defensively this spring. He doesn’t have the elite outfield arm he once had but is still a good outfielder. It will be important for him to adjust to Citi Field’s unique dimensions quickly especially playing in a corner outfield spot, a position he isn’t all that familiar with. Young was given a 1-year “prove it” contract so he has a lot to prove to not just the Mets but to all of baseball this season. He was still given $7.25 million however and for a team like the Mets with a very small payroll ($87 million) they badly need him to produce. When Eric Young Jr. is in the lineup Chris Young will bat 5th and when Juan Lagares is in the lineup Chris Young will likely bat leadoff. Lagares should play every day as his defense is just too good to keep on the bench. There has been a power struggle between Collins and Sandy Alderson on which outfielder should play more. Collins wants EY Jr. in their as he doesn’t believe anyone else can hit leadoff on this team. Both outfielders should see a lot of playing time.

Starting Rotation: Obviously the talk about the Mets starting rotation is about the guy who isn’t here and that is Matt Harvey. He expects to be back before September but it would be very irresponsible for the Mets to let Harvey rush back like that. Besides who know if they will even be in the race that long. At the top of the Mets rotation is a pair of strike throwers in Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon. Both have looked good this spring and could be ready for big seasons.

As the only left-hander on the staff Jon Niese must stay healthy if the team has any desire to stay in contention. Zack Wheeler continues to fly under the radar and if he can throw enough strikes, could be a candidate for the All-Star team in Minnesota this season. Wheeler has a dynamic arm. Daisuke Matsuzaka will start the year in the minors but will be used as rotation depth if Jenrry Mejia struggles in the fifth spot or gets injured.

Bobby Parnell has lacked the velocity he needs to be an effective closer Photo by NY Daily News

Bobby Parnell has lacked the velocity he needs to be an effective closer
Photo by NY Daily News

Bullpen: The Mets bullpen is their biggest weakness and will likely become their downfall this season. It all starts with the closer and Bobby Parnell doesn’t look like the same guy that was an All-Star candidate last summer. His velocity is down big and the team is already talking about him not pitching anything more than back to back games. Jose Valverde will be relied on to start the year as the 8th inning guy. He is an older pitcher and is a prime suspect for overuse to start the season should he have a few successful outings. Remember this is a guy who was released by Detroit last season, a team that was desperate for bullpen help.

Scott Rice will be depended on heavily as well after a strong rookie campaign. He is also a suspect for overuse as he was overused badly by Collins in 2013 and scouts have all said his velocity has been down as well. John Lannan will hope to assist Rice in the lefty specialist role, a role that Lannan has no experience in. Jeurys Familia has an elite arm and it would a major surprise if he isn’t near the back end of the bullpen by Memorial Day, likely as the 8th inning guy. Collins wants to ease Familia into that role.

Bench: The Mets bench will be very interchangeable. It will include one of EY Jr./ Lagares and two of Satin/Davis/Duda. It also will have backup catcher Anthony Recker as well as Omar Quintanilla. Andrew Brown is expected to make the team as the 5th outfielder until they need the roster spot for Jon Niese.

Prospects: The Mets have many prospects that will make their major league debuts in 2014. Unfortunately due to service time, none will make their debuts any time soon. Rafael Montero is the pitcher closest to the big leagues but likely won’t be up until mid-June for arbitration purposes. The same goes for Noah Syndergaard. We have already seen Wilmer Flores but the infielder will be up after the first infield injury or if Tejada struggles. He is not in the minors because of service time simply to get an opportunity to play every day. Jack Leathersich is a left-handed reliever the team thinks can get big league lefties out soon.

Projection: 80-82 Third Place This Met team looks better than the past few years because of depth. If they lose a starter early on in the season they don’t have to go to an Aaron Laffey or someone like him. They have legitimate pitching prospects in the system. The N.L. East is not what it once was but the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves both have much more talent than the Mets currently. Also if the Mets find themselves in it at the trade deadline, do they have the money to go take on a contract to go get the hitter they likely will need? The Mets are improving but this doesn’t look to be their year.

Strengths: Starting pitching, Depth

Weaknesses: Bullpen, Shortstop, Payroll flexibility

Breakout Candidates: Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee

Regression Candidates: Jon Niese, All of the first basemen, Curtis Granderson, Bobby Parnell

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. New York Mets
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Miami Marlins

By Steven Inman

A former Phillies draft pick, Taylor was traded to Toronto along with Travis d'Arnaud in the Roy Halladay deal

A former Phillies draft pick, Taylor was traded to Toronto along with Travis d’Arnaud in the Roy Halladay deal

The Oakland Athletics have told former top prospect Michael Taylor that he will not make their big league team. Taylor, 28, is out of minor-league options and will be put on waivers. Taylor is hitting .274/.348/.532 in 26 games this spring, with 11 runs, five doubles, one triple, three homers and 10 RBI with 17 strikeouts in 69 at-bats.

He has hit very well at the Triple-A level with Oakland and has been thought of very highly within baseball the past few years. He hit .281/.360/.474 at Triple-A Sacramento last season, his fourth season with the Triple-A River Cats, with 54 runs, 25 doubles, a triple, 18 homers and 85 RBI in 112 games. He struck out 88 times in 481 at-bats. There just simply hasn’t been room in the outfield for Taylor to get anything more than a few cups of coffee with the two-time AL West champs. The New York Mets should make a waiver claim on the “toolsy” Taylor.

Taylor has a great eye at the plate and has always been a high OBP guy in the minors. However he has only gotten 26 games in the big leagues over the past three seasons. Yes he is 28 but there are plenty of outfielders who establish themselves late in their 20’s due to a lack of playing time. Jayson Werth is a guy that comes to mind.

He has a lot of power and the Mets will have an open spot on the roster the first few days of the season with Jon Niese starting the year on the DL. This is certainly a player to keep an eye on as he hits waivers. He may not even reach the Mets even if they claim him with teams like the Astros and Twins in need of outfielders ahead of them on the waiver wire.

By Steven Inman

Photo by NY Post

Photo by NY Post

The New York Mets just announced in a surprise move that RHP Vic Black has been optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. Black came into the spring as Terry Collins’ top choice to be the 8th inning guy. Black had a terrible spring training but looked to be safe based on his body of work last September. I talked last week about how the Mets didn’t really have a backup plan to Black here.

The bullpen is now in flux. I don’t believe they would have made this move if it wasn’t for the impressive spring by Jeurys Familia. He is really the only guy in this bullpen with any sort of upside to become the bridge to Bobby Parnell. The Mets will ease him in to that role however and I would bet on Jose Valverde being the 8th inning guy. Familia has consistently hit 100 mph with his fastball and is finally throwing strikes consistently.

That last spot in the bullpen is now wide open with just five days before Opening Day. Gonzalez Germen who did some nice work for the Mets last year is probably the front runner but he hasn’t had a great spring himself.

This bullpen could bring the Mets big trouble.