Archive for October, 2014

By Steven Inmanindex

With the Mets already over their 2014 payroll with many notable arbitration raises expected, the Mets can save some coin by non-tendering former closer Bobby Parnell. The Mets shouldn’t even wait until the tender deadline and should cut the right-hander now to save a 40-man roster spot.

The Mets current plan is to tender Parnell a contract and then ease him back into the bullpen mix early in the regular season. MLB Trade Rumors projects Parnell to make around $3.7 million in his final year of arbitration. I think to give him that would be a mistake as a team without any financial flexibility shouldn’t be taking gambles on injured relievers.

Parnell is not expected to start the year on the 25-man roster as he continues his rehab from April Tommy John surgery. The Mets can’t afford to pay a reliever who won’t be the closer and won’t even be available to start the year $3.7 million.

Don’t forget Parnell also lost a good chunk of 2012 with a very serious neck injury.

Here is the full list of arbitration eligible Mets, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors who do a fantastic job 365 days a year.

Bobby Parnell RP (5.132): $3.7MM projected salary

Daniel Murphy, 2B (5.109): $8.3MM

Eric Young Jr., OF (4.123): $2.3MM

Dana Eveland, RP (4.029): $1.0MM

Dillon Gee, SP (4.028): $5.1MM

Ruben Tejada, SS (3.171): $1.7MM

Lucas Duda, 1B (3.137): $4.3MM

Buddy Carlyle, RP (3.096): $1.0MM

Jenrry Mejia, RP (2.140, Super Two): $3.1MM

After he had his surgery in April I wrote about how Parnell likely played his last game as a Met. You can check out that article here. As of now the Mets plan on keeping Parnell. It is pretty crazy that 18 months ago we were talking about the Mets trading Parnell for a big time prospect and now I’m saying they should cut him.

Remember the Mets could always non-tender Parnell and bring him back on a minor league deal or even a guaranteed deal at a smaller base salary.

Can the Mets afford to keep Bobby Parnell?

indexBy Steven Inman 

The Mets hired Kevin Long to be their new hitting coach a few days ago. Long was fired as the Yankees hitting coach after the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season. Long has a similar offensive philosophy to Sandy Alderson (which is why he was hired) and that is to work long at bats, draw walks and get the starter out of the game as soon as you possibly can.

That theory has had mixed results with the Mets over the past few years to say the least and in my opinion the Mets should scrap it.

Met hitters take far too many hittable strikes which results in a lot of strikeouts and situations where hitters are behind in the count, having already taken the best pitch of an at-bat.

The problem with the Mets philosophy is that yes, they are getting the starters out in the 6th inning at 110 pitches but middle relievers now are better than they ever have been. Most teams don’t want the starter out because a hitter would rather face for example a tiring Jason Vargas his third time through the order than the Brandon Finnegans or Kelvin Herreras of the world.

The Mets shouldn’t stop walking by any means but they must be more aggressive especially early in the count if they want to be more successful offensively. Ideally Kevin Long can help them with this in 2015.

By Steven Inmanphoto

In the most unfortunate story you will hear around major league baseball, Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras was killed in a car accident Sunday in the Dominican Republic. Taveras was driving with his girlfriend, who was also killed. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak and the Cardinals released a statement a short time ago. “I simply can’t believe it, I met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived everyday to the fullest.” Mozeliak said in a statement.

A truly awful day for professional sports, Taveras was just 22 years old.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the Mets potentially being able to pry away the stud outfielder a few weeks ago after the Cardinals were eliminated. After checking around with a pair of Cardinals people I found out earlier this week that was highly unlikely and the Cards planned on building around the young left-handed hitter for years to come even for a package centered around Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard. The only way the Mozeliak and the Cards would possibly deal Taveras was in a deal for a superstar established bat like Giancarlo Stanton.

Taveras was ranked as the #3 prospect in baseball going into 2014 and homered in Game 2 of the NLCS exactly two weeks ago today. He had unlimited potential and reminded many of a young Vladdy Guerrero. Just a very, very sad day and all prayers should go to Taveras and his girlfriend’s families.

By Steven Inman

The Mets answer to first base doesn't have to be just one player.

The Mets answer to first base doesn’t have to be just one player.

The Mets biggest needs this winter are shortstop and in the outfield but the team also has smaller needs to address.

The Mets are going to need to find a right-handed hitting first base platoon mate for Lucas Duda this winter. Duda hit .180 with two homers in 111 at bats against lefties in his 2014 breakout campaign.

While Michael Cuddyer’s name has come up on a number of occasions, the Mets can fill this small hole on a much cheaper level, saving money to address outfield and possibly shortstop. A great option to fill this platoon is lefty-killing infielder Danny Valencia.

Valencia started his career as an everyday third basemen with the Minnesota Twins in 2010. After the league sort of figured the Miami native out, he bounced around to a few teams but one skill never left him and that is the ability to mash left-handers.

Valencia hit .321 vs. lefties in 112 at bats in 2014 and is a career .327/.368/.502 hitter against left-handers in 229 career games.

Valencia has experience at both first and third. Valencia is property of the Blue Jays. He will be eligible for arbitration this winter for the first time which would make him a possible non-tender. MLB Trade Rumors has Valencia at around $1.7 million if the Jays offer the 30-year old arbitration. The Mets can probably get him for a little over a million if he is put on the open market and he would fit a huge need.If the Blue Jays do tender him a contract he would be far from untouchable in a trade.

Lucas Duda hit .272/.372/.543, that combined with Valencia’s line vs. lefties could make for top 5 NL Production at first base all for less than a combined five million.

How should the Mets handle first base this winter?

By Steven Inman index

The Mets will be actively searching for another outfield bat this winter but free agent to be Nick Markakis isn’t a great fit. For one, Markakis is an older player (31 this November) and is looking for a big payday. It is likely a contender will give the Glen Cove native a four-year contract at a salary of at least $10 million a year. The Mets already have an offensive player like Markakis, his name is Daniel Murphy.

2014 Season Statistics

Daniel Murphy                  Nick Markakis

143         G                             155

.289        AVG                       .276

.734        OPS                        .729

9              HR                          14

57           RBI                         50

Pretty similar? We think so.

The Mets will shop Murphy this winter to save on his expected $8.5-9 million salary so why would they give an older player with similar numbers a long-term deal for even more money?

Answer: They won’t.

Markakis doesn’t have the power that the Mets are looking for and they don’t need a more expensive Daniel Murphy. The team is much better off trading a pitching prospect or two to acquire a young, inexpensive bat like Oscar Tavares or Addison Russell.

index

Taveras playing up to his potential, would greatly impact a very weak Met lineup (Photo by ESPN)

By Steven Inman

Oscar Taveras went into the 2014 season as baseball’s #3 prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball America. As the season draws to a close Taveras can find himself on another team.

The lefty swinging Taveras wasn’t able to find an everyday job in the loaded Cardinals outfield this season that includes Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.

Taveras is still just 22 but has conquered the minor leagues to the point where Cardinals GM John Mozeliak admitted that Taveras has to be playing in the big leagues somewhere.

Taveras’ stock has certainly fallen a little since being called the next Vladdy Guerrero last winter and being one of the few truly untouchable prospects the game has.

The Cardinals have openly questioned Taveras’ conditioning this season and he came off the bench in all of the Cards postseason games. “I think he needs to focus on quickness.” –Mozeliak to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch. The Cards believe that Taveras put on too much bulk this winter.

Taveras is in a numbers crunch in the St. Louis outfield and could actually be available. “The betting line here says someone goes this winter from the current outfield crop. Jay and Bourjos are both arbitration-eligible. Mozeliak underscored that Taveras needs to play regularly somewhere. Prospect Stephen Piscotty, 24 in January, demands a hearing. A winter trade of somebody seems likely.” –Strauss (in same article)

The Mets should make this gifted hitter their number one target this winter.

Taveras hit .318 with a .370 OBP with eight homers and 49 RBI in 62 games at Triple-A Memphis this season. He has enough potential that he can turn the Mets offense into a strength, all at the league minimum. This is the bat the Mets have been waiting for.

If Taveras had already reached his potential he wouldn’t be available and if he was he would cost more than the Mets have in their farm system. A potential swap of Noah Syndergaard plus another high ranking pitching prospect and Oscar Taveras could make a lot of sense from both sides and is definitely something the Mets should be interested in pursuing.

Taveras is still a work in progress in the outfield but can play either corner and has some experience in center. He has great power but his ability to hit for a high average and get on base is probably what would be appealing to a team like the Mets who covet guys with high on base percentages.

The Mets could in theory trade a prospect to St. Louis for Taveras, filling their need for a big bat without spending any significant money. Then the team could have the budget to either address shortstop or keep Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon.

I’m not saying this is likely but the Mets should swing for the fences for once this winter.

indexBy Steven Inman 

The recent trend in baseball is locking up young stars to long-term deals before they are eligible for arbitration, let alone free agency. These deals are usually very team-friendly, such as the Rays contract with superstar Evan Longoria. Longoria received a six years $17.5 million during his rookie year in 2008. Tampa got a superstar that they drafted on the cheap through his prime and Longoria got financial security. It doesn’t appear as if those deals really exist anymore.

Last winter the Atlanta Braves locked up young star Andrelton Simmons to a seven year $58 million contract. Simmons is still a work in progress with the bat and wasn’t even arbitration eligible until this winter, hardly a discount. I’m a big fan of Simmons but for that price they may have been better off going year to year. The point is by the time these players are in their 3rd or 4th year and have established themselves; they are already a fortune to keep.

There just doesn’t seem to be hometown discounts anymore. Another Braves player, Julio Teheran just got over $30 million after just his rookie year. This doesn’t bode well for the Mets and some of their young talent such as Zack Wheeler.

Unless players get locked up during their first two years, they seem to be getting monster contracts. Wheeler in less than 300 big league innings has already proven to be a quality starting pitcher in the big leagues. That means it’s already time to get paid.

The good news is Wheeler,23, won’t be a free agent for five more years, but let’s just say he establishes himself in 2015 as a top of the rotation pitcher. After the season he can tell the Mets he won’t sign long term for under $60 million or so. Another season it goes to $75 million or so and will continue to escalate.

Wheeler was 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA over his last 16 starts of the season.

Homer Bailey of the Reds got six years $105 million last year, not because he is a great pitcher but because he eats innings and was one year away from free agency. Money in baseball is getting out of hand and it is up to the Mets to lock up some of their young talent now like the Braves are doing.

The Mets did a good job of this a few seasons back when they signed Jon Niese to a five-year contract extension. Niese looked promising but with all of his injury questions he was hardly a sure thing at the time. If the Mets brought that contract to Niese today, he for sure wouldn’t sign it. Now Niese is a young left-handed pitcher locked up long-term and could bring a good return in a trade.

If the Mets wait a few years, players like Wheeler or even Matt Harvey may decide to just go year by year in arbitration until they hit free agency where they will sign elsewhere for significant dollars.

A six year contract worth around $40-45 million with a couple of team options would give Wheeler the security he is looking for while ensuring that Wheeler will be a Met throughout his prime.