Archive for May, 2014

Today on BrokeMets.com, we have a special treat for all of our readers. Alex Giobbi, of Minorleaguemadhouse.com has agreed to do a guest post on the Mets plan for the MLB Draft next week. Alex specializes in prospects and I highly recommend this article as well as his website. He looks at the track record of Sandy Alderson’s previous three drafts as Mets GM to determine who can be a target for the Mets with the 10th overall pick. alex rod steroids

What name will Bud Selig call for the Mets on June 5th?

With a week remaining before the 2014 MLB Draft kicks off, the Mets have a very big decision to make. Armed with the tenth pick, which was protected from being lost to a team that let go of a big money free agent, the Mets have myriad options for their next big prospect.

Before going into who the Mets should take, let’s take a look at the first round strategy of GM Sandy Alderson.

Ever since Alderson took over as the Mets’ GM, he’s opted to take high ceiling talent out of high school; in fact, of the five first round picks he’s had (this includes the compensatory picks he’s gotten from losing Pedro Feliciano and Jose Reyes), only one, catcher Kevin Plawecki of Purdue University, came out of college. The players he’s taken in the first (and compensatory) rounds are as follows:

2013: Dominic Smith, first baseman, Serra High School, Los Angeles, CA.

Dom Smith is holding his own in Savannah despite being less than a year out of high school.

Dom Smith is holding his own in Savannah despite being less than a year out of high school.

2014 Team: Savannah Sand Gnats (Low A)

Smith, who was viewed as one of the top hitters in his class, was valued for his stroke as well as his fielding ability. He’s been compared to Adrian Gonzalez, and in a particularly weak year for first base prospects in MLB, he’s ranked second, although he’s made strides to justify that ranking after a slow start in Low-A Savannah. Given the team’s unsurprising trade of former top pick Ike Davis and commitment to Lucas Duda (who will be 31 or 32 by the time Smith makes his MLB debut) it’s almost a certainty that Smith will be playing first base at Citi Field in the latter half of the 2010’s.

2012: Gavin Cecchini, Shortstop, Alfred M. Barbe High School, Lake Charles, LA

Cecchini is a big time hit or miss prospect who was taken for his value as a defensive star. Although he’s had a slow start to his career due to injury, the fact that he’s only 20 years old serves as a reminder that high school talent often takes more time to develop, meaning he could conceivably be held in the minors until 2017, much like Smith. Cecchini seems to be destined to make up half of a double play combo with one of two top international prospects: Dilson Herrera, who was acquired in the Marlon Byrd trade, or Amed Rosario. Whomever is the odd man out in that group is either going to be traded or coerced into playing third base. Should Cecchini lose out on the shortstop battle, he could be tried out as a third baseman, in fact, his older brother Garin is a top third base prospect for the Boston Red Sox.

Kevin Plawecki, Catcher, Purdue University

Kevin Plawecki has moved through the minor leagues much faster than most anticipated.

Kevin Plawecki has moved through the minor leagues much faster than most anticipated.

When Kevin Plawecki was drafted, one of the big things that stood out about him was the fact that he’s a guy who constantly gets on base. A guy who also rarely strikes out, Plawecki reminds some Mets people of Daniel Murphy, except he’s slower and plays a more challenging position. As I’ve made mention before, teams are starting to understand the importance of carrying two starting level catchers on the big league club, and Plawecki with Travis d’Arnaud could actually prove to be a solid combination. Should the Mets opt to deal him, he may have some value for a team that could use a starting catcher, as evidenced by the Mets’ discussions during the offseason between the Diamondbacks.

2011: Brandon Nimmo: Outfield, Cheyenne East High School, Cheyenne, WY

Alderson’s first pick as a Mets GM is either going to be one of the biggest gem finds or a major novelty gone bad. Nimmo, who gained fame for not playing high school ball (Wyoming doesn’t sanction baseball as a sport in interscholastic competition), was valued for his athletic upside. Nimmo has overcome a predictably slow start in the minors and is currently tearing the cover off the ball in High A St. Lucie, enough to land him in the top 100 prospect list at the final spot. Should he continue that pace, expect him to make a return appearance to the Futures Game in Minnesota.

Michael Fulmer, Pitcher, Deer Creek High School, Deer Creek, OK

Fulmer is the only pitcher that Alderson has drafted in the first round, and for good reason. 2011 was a great year for Oklahoma prep pitchers, and Fulmer has followed Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley’s success pattern. Although he suffered a setback from his development after injuring his leg, he should be with the major league club by 2017, likely as a long reliever/spot starter.

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Sandy Alderson’s strategy deviated from his predecessor, Omar Minaya, who drafted low ceiling/high floor talent. Although most of Minaya’s choices were destined to be average (or in the case of 2007 and 2008 first rounders Nate Vineyard, Reese Havens and Brad Holt, marred with injury and unfulfilled promise) Minaya does have the claim to fame that his final first round pick, Matt Harvey, is one of the best young pitchers in baseball.

Moving on, the question remains: Who should Alderson select with the tenth overall pick?

Generally, given the amount of time prospects take to develop, coupled with the choice between high school, JUCO and college talent, general managers go with the Best Player Available. Although Alderson didn’t necessarily need a first baseman, and many experts thought he would have gone after a college outfielder like Fresno State’s Aaron Judge, Smith was the best player available.

If we went by the best player available based on Baseball America and MLB.com’s top 200 and 100 prospect lists, then the Mets would have two different choices: Baseball America’s #10 player in their top 200 is LSU ace Aaron Nola, who’s bounced up and down the draft board, going as low as the 20’s and as high as top ten. MLB.com has University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer as their ten pick. Zimmer has stayed pretty consistent, getting picked in the top 15 in most mocks.

Looking at the Mets’ top 20 prospects, which is what I use as a basis for my mock drafts, it’s clear that once Noah Syndergaard makes his big league debut, the Mets will not have a legitimate top ten right handed pitching prospect. With Rafael Montero and Jake deGrom likely up for good, and Syndergaard coming up, Alderson, unless he invests his pick in a bona fide arm, will not have a top pitching prospect to advance through the system and excite and distract the fan base. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the options that Alderson has:

First, let’s get one thing abundantly clear: Carlos Rodon will not fall out of the top three. Despite his struggles this year at NC State, Rodon’s still got an impressive resumé, as well as covetable attributes that will make him a top pick. The same goes for Brady Aiken, the prep star from Cathedral Catholic. His stock has risen to the point where he’s in the conversation to be the top pick as well. That, and they are also left-handed pitchers. Tyler Kolek, the consensus top right handed pitching prospect, will also not fall out of the top five.

Let’s take a look at the pitchers that are in range, and that’s 5th best player to 15th best player on Baseball America’s and MLB.com’s lists:

BA:

Jeff Hoffman, East Carolina (6)

Erick Fedde, UNLV (8)

Aaron Nola, LSU (10)

Touki Toussaint, Coral Springs Christian High School, Florida (13)

Tyler Beede, Vanderbilt (15)

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And now MLB.com’s list:

Nola, (5)

Beede (7)

Hoffman (8)

Grant Holmes, Conway High School, South Carolina (12)

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In my two mock drafts, I had the Mets taking a right handed pitcher for the reason stated above: They will need to add a right handed pitching stud in order to balance out their top ten prospects. In the first mock, I picked Touki Toussaint: a high school arm whose raw talent, coupled with his loose arm could make him a deadly young pitcher with #2 starter potential. However, given Alderson’s Moneyball background, which actively discourages the drafting of prep arms in the first round, the chances of Toussaint wearing a Mets jersey seem slim.

In the second mock, I had the Mets taking Tyler Beede. Beede is a familiar name, as he was a first round pick three years ago by the Toronto Blue Jays. However, Beede decided against going pro and went to play for Vanderbilt. Beede’s game is great, but some mechanical fine tuning could make it better. He’s been consistently challenging both Nola and Rodon as the top college pitcher this year, and his Golden Spikes nomination last year indicates he has high level pro potential.

If I were Alderson, I’d want a battle tested pitcher, a pitcher that has faced top flight competition. Right off the bat, that eliminates Toussaint and Grant Holmes, a big pitcher from Conway High School. Because high school baseball talent is relative to the state that it’s played in, even if Toussaint and Holmes were among the best talents that year, keep in mind they were facing typical prep talent. Not every South Carolina and Florida prepster is going to play division one ball in college, and even if they did, they wouldn’t all play in the power conferences like the SEC or the ACC.

The second aspect of a battle tested pitcher is the college conference they play in. The Mountain West and Conference USA, once upon a time, were college hotbeds, but now they’re essentially a tick below the real power conferences. Sure, pitchers like Hoffman and Fedde may get the opportunity to play a power conference team here and there, but ultimately, unless it was consistent, it’s a waste of time for Alderson to even think about Fedde and Hoffman.

This leaves it to two pitchers: Nola, and Beede.

Nola, the ace at LSU, is a pitcher who, while he isn’t going to blow you away with any special pitch, has great command and control of his offerings. He won’t be an ace at the major league level, but his dependability will be an asset to any team that needs a pitcher who can go deep into innings.

Beede, on the other hand, is an anti-Nola. His fastball is his best major league offering, going from the low to mid 90’s, and his ceiling is a front-end starter, possibly as high as #2. What Beede lacks in his game is pitch consistency. While Beede does have devastating offerings, like his fastball, curve and change up, they are only effective if he can consistently locate the strike zone.

So who should Sandy pick if it comes down to Nola and Beede?

In a perfect world, Nola will fall to the tenth spot where Alderson can nab him. His consistency and even strength in his offerings mean that either he’s going to be an above average hurler with little to no need to tinker, or, if there is room for improvement, establish a dominant pitch or make each pitch better. Nola’s mechanics are excellent and he is battle tested against the highest possible level of competition in college baseball. It seems that Nola is one of the very few high ceiling/high floor talents, and although Alderson isn’t the type of general manager who goes for safe picks, getting that combination will pay off rather quickly.

Thanks again to Alex for this fantastic post and make sure to check out his website Minor League Madhouse. He has all of your draft needs covered.

By Steven InmanChris Young

Sandy Alderson had a plan last winter in free agency to bring in guys with a ton of upside. If they performed well, they would be worth their price tags. That plan has worked out miserably so far and it starts with OF Chris Young. Young started the year on the disabled list and hasn’t hit a lick since becoming a Met. Young was signed last winter by Alderson to a 1-year $7.25 million deal. The right-handed outfielder has gone on to hit .195 with a .283 OBP in 136 plate appearances with the Amazins.

Young has been used mostly as a defensive replacement this week as Terry Collins looks for more offense. The issue with that is Young isn’t a good outfielder anymore and really has no business being in the major leagues anymore. The Mets should designate Chris Young for assignment.

Young was an all-star caliber player in Arizona until April 17th, 2012. Young caught a fly ball at Chase Field and crashed hard into the center field wall. Young hit the ground and barely moved for several minutes, his shoulder seriously injured. Since that point Young is hitting under .220 in nearly 1000 at bats. Young used to be a guy who would hit .250-.260 hit 25 homers and drive in 90. “I do think about that day when I hit wall and what my career path may have been had I not done that,” Young said. “But at the same time, you can’t really regret playing the game. Those are the type of things that come with playing.” Young told the Arizona Republic when the Diamondbacks came to town last week.

It is a really unfortunate story as Young is still only 30 but he has not been the same player since that injury. If he had not gotten hurt and was still playing well then he wouldn’t have been a Met anyway. He likely would have been out of their price range or even still with the Diamondbacks.

Young has been below replacement level on both offense and defense this season according to WAR. He should be designated for assignment as the team could just use Matt Den Dekker as a defensive replacement and save a roster spot. Not Sandy Alderson’s best work here….

By Steven Inman

The Mets would benefit by making Citi Field much more hitter friendly

The Mets would benefit by making Citi Field much more hitter friendly

Sandy Alderson said it’s possible the organization may again look in to adjusting the outfield dimensions at Citi Field.

Alderson pointed out, that the Mets are among the league leaders in run production on the road. A lot of that has to do with a strong offensive week in Coors Field and Yankee Stadium.

“This isn’t the best hitter’s park, but, at the same time, while you’d expect the runs to be depressed at home, there is such a divergence from the results on the road it’s something we’ve been taking a look at and something we have to fix,” Alderson said. “It’s not about home runs, it’s not about driving the ball to the fence, it’s something else.”

Former hitting coach Dave Hudgens spoke about the dimensions of the stadium on Tuesday, too. He mentioned that David Wright’s best place to hit balls, right-center field, is one of the deepest park of the parks.

“The stadium was not built with David Wright in mind,” Hudgens said.

It makes a lot of sense for the Mets to look into this. When you look at other extreme pitchers parks such as Petco in San Diego or Safeco in Seattle, you’ll notice there isn’t a lot of offense or winning going on with those teams either. The best thing to do would be to move the fences in even further, especially right center field. The goal would be to make it as neutral of a park to hitters and pitchers as possible.

At the moment this just seems to be an idea by Alderson and not something they are seriously considering at this time.

By Steven Inman

Dave Hudgens

Dave Hudgens

After another dismal game for the New York Mets Monday, the team announced that hitting coach Dave Hudgens has been let go and replaced by Lamar Johnson. Johnson has been a minor league hitting coordinator with the Amazins since 2005. Hudgens was brought in a few years ago by Sandy Alderson to preach the team’s patient philosophy. The hope was he would be able to fix former big leaguer Jason Bay.The issue is there simply is not enough offensive talent here for any hitting coach to be successful. While Hudgens didn’t help himself out here, the task of fitting several Triple-A square pegs into round holes was a difficult one.Many players didn’t get along with Hudgens but the move was simply made in hope that it would put hitters on notice and a spark would form. Instead of thanking the Mets for his time in the organization, Hudgens blamed the fans and the SNY broadcast booth for the teams offensive woes. “I really just think guys tried too hard at home,” Hudgens told MLB.com after his firing. “I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home. How can you boo Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on. It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it. And they’re trying really hard at home.”

If Hudgens is correct and the booing really got into players heads then we may have an even bigger problem here. Keep in mind that the Mets aren’t even filling up half of their seats on most nights so if Curtis Granderson or Lucas Duda can’t handle half a crowd booing them every once in a while then they shouldn’t be playing baseball. This is one of the most subdued fan bases the Mets have ever had so it can’t be that traumatic for these players. The 6th straight year of under .500 baseball will do that to a fan base.

In the three game series vs. Arizona last week Duda went 0-9 and left an unbelievable 15 men on base. His average has fallen all the way down to .236.

I frankly think Hudgens is wrong as Granderson was booed all throughout April and yet has been the Mets best hitter in May. Maybe the team just lacks enough offensive talent. Hudgens really seemed to shoot himself in the foot for future baseball jobs here.

Hudgens didn’t just stop there as he also attacked SNY, the Mets television trio of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.  “I’m glad I don’t have to listen to those guys anymore. I just shake my head at the old-school guys that have it all figured out. Go up there and swing the bat. Well what do you want to swing at? It just confounds me. It’s just hilarious, really.” Hudgens told Newsday. Keith Hernandez has been very critical of the Mets taking so many first pitch fastballs with guys in scoring position. The Mets have been historically bad with the bases loaded this year as they are just 6-45. Hernandez is right but Hudgens doesn’t have to listen to him. It is very concerning that even members of the coaching staff seems more critical of fan and media perception than wins.

Lamar Johnson will be very similar to Hudgens in that he will preach pitch selection. However expect him to be much more hands on with the Mets hitters.

By Steven Inman

Matt Harvey has had to sit out the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery

Matt Harvey has had to sit out the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery

It’s very disappointing to say that 2014 has been a devastating year for pitching injuries. More pitchers have undergone Tommy John surgery this season than any other year in major league history, and we are only in May.

While Mets fans have been worried about the surgeries of Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell, torn UCL’s have plagued the entire league all spring. The latest major injury has been to the Marlins young ace, Jose Fernandez, who will undergo the surgery Friday. Fernandez was my pick to win the Cy Young.

So why are all these pitchers having Tommy John?

Well there probably is no exact reason but there are a few likely causes for all of these injuries. For starters pitchers in college are consistently overworked. College coaches have no regard for their players anymore. In his last season at UNC, Harvey was rarely throwing under 120 pitches a start and would occasionally throw in the mid 150’s. It had gotten so bad for Harvey at UNC that the player considered leaving the school. Instead he didn’t but was considered to have “attitude issues” with the coaching staff. You would too if a coaching staff would consistently try to blow out your arm months before the draft.Matt Harvey UNC pitch count

Expected #1 pick NC State’s Carlos Rodon was also throwing way too many pitches in all of his starts. Now he is having arm and velocity issues and his status as the #1 pick in next month’s draft is certainly in doubt. The list of college coaches abusing their starters goes on and on. This likely has a lot to do with Tommy John surgeries but not every player who got the injury even went to college.

Another reason why pitchers keep getting hurt could be the fact that all baseball players are working out way too much these days. A lot of them are simply just hurting themselves.

The bottom line is there are many reasons why pitchers keep breaking now more than ever but there is no exact formula.

By Steven Inmanphoto

The Mets have begun to reconfigure their major league roster. Rafael Montero as previously reported here will officially start at Citi Field Wednesday night vs. the New York Yankees. To make room in the rotation, Jenrry Mejia was moved to the bullpen where he already looked very impressive in Monday’s come from behind win.

This is clearly the correct move as Mejia can now go back to dialing up the velocity in short relief outings. Mejia seemed to tire quickly through his starts. He’s held opponents to a sparkling .193/.258/.246 batting line when facing them the first time in a game this season. That line however, jumps to .245/.365/.415 when facing an opponent for the second time and a whopping .405/.500/.595 when facing opponents for a third time. His violent delivery also makes him have a much better chance of staying healthy out of the bullpen, an area where the Mets could use a live arm.

Montero gets the opportunity to show why the Mets have been so excited about him. Three years ago the Mets offered Montero $80,000 at a DR showcase game and now he will prepare to make his big league debut Wednesday. Montero will wear #50 and will likely be eligible for Super Two status.

That wasn’t the only call up as the Mets will also call up prospect Jacob deGrom. deGrom has been strictly a starter over his career but will be asked to join the pen. deGrom has been very effective in Triple-A and most scouts believe he should thrive in the bullpen where he like Mejia, can just dial up his fastball for short relief appearances. deGrom will wear #48 and is expected to be activated tonight as Gonzalez Germen was placed on the DL to make room.

Noah Syndergaard could also be up soon but he hasn’t been as effective at the Triple-A level and looks to need a little more seasoning in the minors. Bringing up deGrom and Montero shows the Mets don’t always care about arbitration clocks and that they want to win now. If only they could find a little offense now….

By Steven Inman

Photo by BaseballAmerica

Photo by BaseballAmerica

After failing to get out of the 5th inning in his last start, Jenrry Mejia may be removed from the rotation before his next scheduled start Wednesday according to Terry Collins. In that case Rafael Montero would take his place in the rotation according to team insiders. Montero is also scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday after throwing 5 1/3rd hitless innings for Triple-A Las Vegas.

Talk about throwing a kid into the fire. If Montero makes his season debut Wednesday he will be doing it at home vs. the New York Yankees in the Subway Series. The Mets under Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have had their top pitching prospects make their ML debuts on the road. If Montero makes his debut Wednesday and stays up for good he would be a Super Two player but not a free agent until after the 2020 season.

Sandy Alderson is still very reluctant to bring Montero up so this is far from a done deal.

While it would be very exciting to see Rafael Montero make his season debut in the subway series, it is very discouraging that the Mets continue to jerk around Jenrry Mejia who somehow is still just 24 years old. “I don’t want to be in the bullpen.” Mejia has told reporters on more than one occasion. Mejia was going to end up in the bullpen later in the year anyway as his innings limit is around 125-130 this year.

That being said it is clear that the Mets still have no idea what to do with Jenrry Mejia. Hopefully they don’t blow out his arm, moving him back and forth like the Yankees did a few years back with Joba Chamberlain.