Archive for the ‘Future Mets’ Category

By Steven Inman

Sandy

Photo from NY Times

The Mets 2017 season, that started with so much promise, has been completely derailed by injuries to key players. The pitching staff that finished 2016 with the 3rd best ERA in MLB, has been the WORST in the majors with a 5.01 ERA. The pitchers that the front office believed could lead them back to the World Series have all dealt with injuries (Or in Matt Harvey’s case off the field troubles and regression) this season except for Jacob deGrom, who has been decent, but far from the elite arm he’s been the last few seasons. It must make fans wonder if Sandy Alderson and his team creating the blueprint around young pitchers was the right choice.

When Sandy Alderson came to New York, he had the plan of tearing everything down and following the San Francisco Giants mindset, which was to construct a team around one offensive star (Buster Posey for SF, Yoenis Cespedes for NYM) and pretty much all other offensive players were interchangeable, while building around superior pitching. The trio of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner were as formidable as any rotation in baseball for not one or two, but three championships. That model created a borderline dynasty, but it was short lived. Cain never had an ERA under four after his age 27 season, and Tim Lincecum now 32, is out of baseball. The Giants success while impressive, has a stroke of luck attached to it. Looking back on it, all of those postseason innings Cain and Lincecum threw turned out to just be too much mileage on their arms. The club has had a dismal start to 2017.

The Mets like all other franchises, want to make long runs in the postseason every season. The way their pitching has not been able to stay on the field the last few regular seasons, it’s fair to wonder if they’ll have the ability to do that. Even workhorses like Cain and Lincecum were not able to handle that kind of workload going on deep playoff runs after awhile.

Sandy Alderson did an excellent job of following the Giants model. He waited out long and expensive contracts left behind by the previous Met regime and made some shrewd trades to acquire future starters such as Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler. Offensively, Sandy has made it clear in his tenure with the Mets that home runs and walks are the most important traits he wants his position players to have, while defensive range and ability haven’t been considered as important. Hopefully for the Mets sake when the team calls up Amed Rosario in a few weeks, they can improve a very poor defense. The Atlanta Braves are also on record saying during their current rebuild that they’re trying to emulate the starting pitching plan the Mets have committed to.

With that said, there aren’t too many teams that build around pitching in today’s game. Obviously, you need quality pitching to win, nobody is disputing that, but with pitchers being as brittle as they ever have been, does it make sense when rebuilding to build a core around arms? Or does it make more sense when rebuilding with prospects to go after young hitters over pitching like the current Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs went with the opposite strategy of the Mets and Giants, selecting position players at the front ends of drafts such as Kris Bryant & Kyle Schwarber and trading big league pitching for Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo. The Houston Astros also have a nice young core of position players such as George Springer, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. The ‘Stros have enjoyed the majors best record to start 2017.

The story of this Mets era, built around the arms of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler is far from over but at this point it’s a legitimate question if this group can stay healthy enough to win the franchise’s first World Series since 1986. The 5 starters mentioned, who the Mets were hoping would anchor their pitching staff for the next decade, have never pitched a single turn in the same rotation.

When all is said and done will the Mets regret building around pitching over hitting?

By Steven InmanSandy

The Mets came out of the All-Star break thinking if they could just get a little more offense in the second half they could go on a run similar to the incredible fireworks of last summer. The Mets offense in the first half was embarrassing, headlined by poor at-bats with runners on base. Somehow this Mets lineup has gotten even worse over the last few weeks to the point where the Mets are on the brink of being swept at home by a Rockies pitching staff that entered this series with a 4.87 ERA as a team. Pitchers like Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Anderson who were badly scuffling, easily shut down the Mets hitters. The Mets have scored just 4 runs in the first 3 games of this series. It has gotten so bad this week for the Mets that they have the Rockies thinking they can compete for an NL Wild Card.

The Mets are batting .202/.279/.318 with men in scoring position on the season, one of the worst triple slash lines with RISP in the history of baseball. While a lot of that is probably just being unlucky, the players must know how bad they’ve been. Asdrubal Cabrera was able to recite his recent 0-30+ AB slump with RISP to reporters after a recent game. There’s a good chance the team’s offensive futility with men on base is in the player’s heads to some degree.

The Mets have been active in trying to resurrect this offense through trades but with a lack of impact bats available it is going to take the last of the Mets farm system to acquire such a hitter. Even a miracle trade for a Jonathan Lucroy won’t save this Met offense. Instead I suggest the Mets turn around and sell.

Now obviously this isn’t going to be the popular opinion coming off a World Series appearance but this team without a major offensive overhaul isn’t going anywhere. The Mets don’t have a true center fielder on the roster except for Justin Ruggiano who they signed Saturday. With Matt Harvey out for the year and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz clearly not the same dynamic players with their bone spurs, the Mets huge starting pitching advantage is no longer that big of an edge over other clubs.

Instead of trying to deal Zack Wheeler for Jay Bruce again (who doesn’t fit here as another corner outfielder) the Met should turn around and consider dealing free agents to be Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker and Bartolo Colon.

The Mets will get compensation picks for Walker and Cespedes if they depart since they are likely to offer the two arbitration but the Mets should be able to get more in a package in what has been an extreme sellers market.

The Mets really stripped down their farm system last season to acquire all the pieces that helped them reach the World Series. Trading Cespedes who will likely opt-out for a larger deal could bring you an elite prospect like Michael Fulmer who the Mets traded away at this time last year. Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA in 16 starts as a Tiger this season. While the Mets can’t get him back, they can get a good young piece who can really help next season with (hopefully) a healthy starting rotation. So far this month teams have shown they are willing to trade top prospects for rentals. The Yankees who are just a game back in the loss column to the Mets entering Sunday have transformed their farm system by trading elite relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller this week. Now instead of bringing back the same old team next season they will have blue chip prospects like Clint Frazier ready to make an impact in 2017.

While this will never happen as the Mets would never sell coming off a World Series appearance, the season continues to head in the wrong direction and if the Mets could retool here and acquire some assets that could help them in 2017, they could be looking at another trip to the World Series in the not so distant future.Selling off now could be the Mets best chance to extend their window to win a World Series.

By Steven InmanSpring 2013 014

The Mets continue to labor to simply score more than a run or two a night. David Wright is still out indefinitely and payroll restraints will prevent this club from adding a significant player at the MLB trade deadline next month. Their best option may actually be their only option as Michael Conforto has been raking in Binghamton (AA) and could be ready to make his MLB debut soon.

Conforto, 22, is hitting .377 with a .482 OBP in 19 games since being called up from St. Lucie (A+).  He has hit 9 homers and drove in 40 in 253 at bats across two levels of the minors this season.

It makes too much sense. The Mets can platoon Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson in one corner with Cuddyer playing against lefties and Granderson against right handers. Both are older players that could probably use more days off. Conforto could infuse a power bat into a lineup that has scored just six runs in their last four games, all losses. Between Cuddyer and Granderson whoever produces more will stay in the lineup.

The former Oregon State standout has only played in 19 games in Double (AA) but he is the most advanced hitter to come through the Mets system in at least five years in terms of how fast he is approaching the big leagues. If he struggles they can simply send him back down.

The Mets are headed down a very dark path as they continue to lose very winnable games. Their defense is horrendous, they don’t hit and the bullpen has lost most of its depth. If things continue Terry Collins is going to undeservingly lose his job. The team must do something to shake things up and if they are unwilling to pay the price to get better in terms of taking on salary or trading away prospects then they should give Conforto a shot.

By Steven Inman

April 19th was a very bad  day for the New York Mets

April 19th was a very bad day for the New York Mets (Photo by NY Post)

Before the season we talked about how Travis d’Arnaud needed a hot start more than any other Met and he has done just that. The 26-year old d’Arnaud is hitting .317 with 2 homers and a team leading 10 RBIs. The catcher also started 11 of the Mets 13 games so far.

Perhaps just as importantly, d’Arnaud’s defense has improved as well. In the Marlins series he threw out Dee Gordon twice. Teams would try to run consistently in 2014 when Travis was behind the plate. The catcher has also done a nice job of pitch framing as well.

With all the talk in spring of how great top prospect Kevin Plawecki looks, it was easy to connect the dots. If Travis didn’t play well than they had a suitable replacement for the backstop. Plawecki had a 5 RBI game for the 51’s in Triple-A on Saturday but for the most part has gotten off to a slow start. Plawecki was hitting just .216 in 37 at-bats in Vegas.

Travis d’Arnaud is a big reason why the Mets are in first place two weeks into the year but now because one reliever couldn’t find the strike zone, he is gone indefinitely.

The David Wright injury was a huge blow but this one is far worse as d’Arnaud although still early, was having a breakout year and will be out at least a few months. Kevin Plawecki, who was not playing well in Triple-A will come up and get the first crack at being the Mets #1 catcher while d’Arnaud is down.

Plawecki will be the second player drafted by Sandy Alderson to make his debut with the Mets. The first was Danny Muno last week.

Although the Mets are on an eight game winning streak and seemingly buried the Miami Marlins in the process it was a very somber mood around the clubhouse following the win. While the team has played well on their way to tying a franchise record best 10-3 start, the injuries have piled up and it may be too much to overcome at this point.

After already losing Zack Wheeler and Josh Edgin for the season the team then lost David Wright for at least three weeks and now a catcher who could have made his first all-star game this year.

The Mets a half inning earlier also lost key reliever Jerry Blevins to a fractured forearm after he was struck in his pitching arm by a comebacker. Blevins didn’t think it was a big deal before he got the diagnosis as he wanted to stay in the game. Blevins had not allowed a baserunner from the 15 batters he faced in 2015. He was the Mets best reliever through the club’s first 13 games but now they will have to hope Alex Torres can throw enough strikes to get lefties out.

Now it is next man up and if this magical start is to continue than it is going to have to be thanks to unknown players like Kevin Plawecki. The Mets had a similar situation in 2006 when key pitchers like Orlando Hernandez and Pedro Martinez went down and young guys like John Maine stepped up big and helped will the Mets to the best record in the National League and their last playoff berth. Maybe a similar story will ensue but we will now know how much depth the Mets truly have.

Can the Mets hold on and continue to play well?

By Steven Inman

Matt Reynolds had an impressive Spring Training with the Mets

Matt Reynolds had an impressive Spring Training with the Mets

After an impressive spring training, Matt Reynolds established himself as a prospect to watch this season. He raked in the upper minors in 2014 and has very little still to prove down there. That being said the Mets continue to let the Wilmer Flores experiment play out.

Flores hasn’t established a reason for the Mets to continue letting him play everyday.

He hasn’t hit at all, he hasn’t shown he can hit for power even in the minor leagues, nor has he shown a great ability to get on base. His baserunning hasn’t been good and that is before we even get to his defense which has been horrendous through the first couple series. Flores has looked shaky in every game after Opening Day.

Maybe he can be a right-handed bat off the bench but he hasn’t shown he can be an everyday shortstop. In a season the Mets hope to be a playoff team, they cannot afford to experiment here. If the team insists on finding out if Flores can play short they should have put him there in the minor leagues over the past few years. Flores is out of options so they cannot send him down without the risk of losing him now.

Matt Reynolds has played well in Triple-A and has shown to be at least adequate at both second base and shortstop. He may not have a ton of power but he should be able to hit for a high average and most importantly he can play the position he is asked to play. When the Mets do eventually call up Reynolds he will be the first Sandy Alderson draft pick as Mets GM to make it to New York.

If the Mets want to contend this season they must plug up as many weaknesses as they can. Games in April count just as much as they do in September.

Do you agree that the Mets have been too patient with Flores at shortstop?

By Steven Inman

Noah Syndergaard should makes his MLB debut in 2015 (Photo by NY Post)

Noah Syndergaard should makes his MLB debut in 2015 (Photo by NY Post)

Baseball America has come out with their yearly top ten prospect list for every MLB Organization. The Mets are headlined by top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard who has been in trade rumors of late but is likely to stay Met property.

The big riser in the list in LHP Steven Matz, who didn’t even rank in the top ten last winter and is now right behind Syndergaard. Matz had a terrific year and could help the Mets in some role in the second half of 2015.

The prospect who fell the most was 1B Dominic Smith who was #4 last year but doesn’t appear in the top ten this winter. Smith struggled to hit for power in Low-A Savannah, a park that is very difficult to hit home runs in. 2015 will be a big year for the contact-first hitter.

The Mets of late have had mostly pitchers as top prospects, but the system has become much more balanced as six of the top ten prospects are position players.

Dilson Herrera and Rafael Montero are the only Met prospects on the list that have already made their big league debuts. Here is the full list.

Rank Prospect  Pos.  Last Year
1  Noah Syndergaard RHP  1
2 Steven Matz LHP  –
3 Brandon Nimmo OF  8
4 Dilson Herrera 2B  –
5 Kevin Plawecki C  5
6 Amed Rosario SS  7
7 Michael Conforto OF  –
8 Rafeal Montero RHP  3
9 Marcos Molina RHP  –
10 Gavin Cecchini SS  9

By Steven Inman

After arriving in New York in 2008, Daniel Murphy is likely heading into his final month in Queens.

After arriving in New York in 2008, Daniel Murphy is likely heading into his final month in Queens.

Daniel Murphy has been dealing with a strained calf and it hasn’t improved at all with rest. As a result the Mets placed their lone All-Star representative on the disabled list. Anytime a player gets put on the DL at this time of the year with rosters about to expand in a few days, it means the player isn’t expected back anytime soon.

In a corresponding roster move the Mets called up top infield prospect Dilson Herrera. Herrera, 20, is the 18th youngest player to debut with the Mets ever. Herrera is ranked as the 8th best prospect by MLB.com. A strong minor league season probably gets Herrera a little higher up on this list next year. Keep in mind the Mets only view Herrera as a second basemen.

It was certainly a surprise that Herrera is being called up straight from Double-A. Herrera had to be added to the 40-man roster this winter anyway but there wasn’t much talk of the second basemen being called up until Murphy was placed on the DL. Herrera hit .340 with ten homers and 48 RBI in 61 games for Double-A Binghamton.

Herrera has been great in the minor leagues since coming over in a trade exactly a year ago from the Pirates with Vic Black for Marlon Byrd and John Buck. (Two rental players) This trade could go down as the most underrated trade Sandy Alderson has made as General Manager of the Mets.

BrokeMets has been reporting that the Mets are expected to trade Daniel Murphy this winter and you will now get a sneak peak at his replacement. Sandy Alderson and the rest of the front office have never been big Murphy fans. Remember Murphy was drafted by former GM Omar Minaya. Minaya, who has been working in the Padres front office the past few seasons and has been trying to acquire Murphy from the Mets for the past couple of years.

The Mets have no interest in paying Daniel Murphy the ten million or so it would take on a four year deal to lock up their second basemen so it makes sense from a baseball perspective to deal him this winter if he isn’t expected to be around long-term. Despite missing the past few games Murphy continues to lead the National League in hits with 159 and is expected to make around $8.5 million in his final year of arbitration. (For some other team)

The Mets offense has been horrendous this season, by far worse than what was expected. That being said this offense could get a little worse short-term if the Mets remove the NL’s hit leader and replace him with a rookie. A talented rookie, but still a rookie.

The Dilson Herrera ERA starts Friday night.