Posts Tagged ‘Michael Conforto’

By Steven Inman

ld

Photo from NY Post

 

On Monday, Lucas Duda was placed on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his back. Duda wasn’t hitting much recently but the Mets offense could use all the help it could get. Only the Braves and the Padres have scored less runs than the Mets (73 runs) in May.

Duda is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. David Wright had the same injury a few seasons ago and winded up missing a little over 2 months. The Mets are going to have to find some offense at first base. While the trade market hasn’t fully developed yet the Mets do have a few alternatives to Duda. Here are some of their options.

David Wright: With David Wright’s recent throwing issues this could make some sense. It seems inevitable at some point now that David Wright will eventually wind up at first base before his contract is up but the captain has struggled with preparation before games due to his well documented back problems. Adding a new wrinkle like learning a new position after 13 years in the majors might be too much for the veteran to handle right now. Plus then the Mets would have to find someone capable of playing third base every day.

Wright could be an option long-term for the Mets at first base, just not now.

Michael Conforto: At this point, this seems to be Terry Collins preferred option. It would present an opportunity to free Juan Lagares to roam center field every day again and allow Yoenis Cespedes to move back to left field while keeping Conforto’s bat in the lineup. Other than Cespedes, Conforto has been the Mets most consistent bat all season, so making him learn a brand new position doesn’t make a ton of sense either. Conforto, 23, has played a very solid left field for the Mets to start the season. The Mets should leave Conforto alone and let him continue to get better in left field.

Wilmer Flores: Wilmer is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Friday and he should get the first look at playing first everyday with Duda out. Flores has badly struggled this season adjusting to a bench role. If Flores hits the way he did last season, expect him to be the everyday first basemen until Duda is ready to return. The Mets likely won’t consider outside options unless Flores fails to hit as the first basemen.

Eric Campbell: While Campbell has proven to be a very versatile player for the Mets, he hasn’t hit at all since his rookie season, with a career slash line of .227/.316/.320. Campbell has played first in all five games since Duda went down. The Mets can and should do better here.

Ty Kelly: Mike Puma of the NY Post called Kelly “Campbell with more speed” on twitter. If that’s truly the case, not sure why the Mets would want another Eric Campbell on the roster. While the switch hitter raked in Las Vegas, Kelly will probably not be in the first base competition unless he can impress coming off the bench for now.

James Loney: The veteran first basemen is currently in Triple-A in the Padres system. He is a solid defensive first basemen who has 10 years of big league experience under his belt with the Dodgers, Red Sox and Rays. The lefty bat has been playing some right field as a way to become more versatile for a big league team. Loney has never been a big power hitter but he has always hit for a high average. Loney has an opt-out that would allow him to leave El Paso if a club was willing to put him on their big league roster. Loney is a perfect fit for the Mets, as he hits for a high average, especially against right-handers. He has hit .340/.372/.425 in 41 games in the Pacific Coast League this season. Plus Loney’s contact skills could work well off the bench as a pinch hitter once Duda returns. The Mets would only need to pay the prorated version of the league minimum since the Rays are still on the hook for Loney’s $9.66 million 2016 salary.

Juan Uribe: While Uribe didn’t hit well for the Mets when he came to New York last season, the Mets seemed to take off when he and Kelly Johnson were traded to Queens from Atlanta. Uribe hasn’t hit much with the Indians (.237/.305/.342) but he is a versatile player who could play some first along with filling in for David Wright at third. Uribe is only making $4M this season so he could be an option for the Mets but the Indians are unlikely to sell off a clubhouse leader while they are in the race.

Dom Smith: Many think that Dominic Smith is the heir apparent to Lucas Duda at first base. The lefty bat was the Mets first round pick back in 2013. Coincidentally some scouts believe Smith is a very similar player to Loney. Smith, 20, has hit solidly in 44 Double-A games but likely isn’t ready for the big leagues. Smith isn’t an option to fill the Mets first base hole right now.

Who should get the first crack at the Mets first base gig?

By Steven Inman

With less than 2 weeks before Opening Day, the Mets Opening Day roster is pretty much set. The only questions left are with a few injuries along with spots on the bench and the bullpen still to be determined. Here’s how we expect it to all shake out.

The Starting Rotationdownload

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Jacob deGrom
  4. Bartolo Colon
  5. Steven Matz

Matt Harvey has already been named the Mets opening night starter in Kansas City. After a strong 2015 season along with a brilliant performance in WS Game 5 against KC, Harvey has certainly earned the honor of starting opening night.  Jacob deGrom’s wife is expected to give birth around April 5th so Noah Syndergaard will start the second game. If deGrom is back from his expected paternity leave he will likely start Game 3 with 3rd year Met Bartolo Colon and rookie Steven Matz behind him in the rotation.

The Starting Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson RFdownload (1)
  2. Neil Walker 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  4. Lucas Duda 1B
  5. David Wright 3B
  6. Michael Conforto LF
  7. Travis d’Arnaud C
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera SS

Asdrubal Cabrera (hamstring) is questionable for Opening Day. It is unknown if he will get the at-bats needed this spring to be able to be ready for the season. The Mets seem to believe that he will be ready so we will put him in the starting lineup for now. After releasing Ruben Tejada the Mets don’t have much shortstop depth with major league experience.

If Cabrera is not ready Wilmer Flores will likely step in to the starting lineup at shortstop. The Mets will need Wilmer to play third base a few days a week for the aging David Wright. This could be a very big year for the Mets two youngest starting position players, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto.

The Bullpen

  1. Jeurys Familiadownload (2)
  2. Addison Reed
  3. Antonio Bastardo
  4. Jerry Blevins
  5. Hansel Robles
  6. Sean Gilmartin
  7. Jim Henderson

Terry Collins said a few weeks ago that the first five on this lists already had spots cemented in the Opening Day bullpen. Hansel Robles will be suspended for the KC series but the Mets will not be able to replace him on the roster while he is out. Gilmartin was very solid last year as a long man for the Mets after coming over from the Twins as a Rule 5 pick. Jim Henderson, the former Brewers closer, has regained velocity and looks very sharp this spring. While the Mets can send Henderson to the minors, he has looked very solid and if the Mets believe he can go back to being the reliever he was when he pitched the 9th for Milwaukee, then he certainly would be a fine addition to the Mets bullpen. Other candidates are Erik Goeddel who has been injured most of the spring and Logan Verrett who is likely competing with Gilmartin for the Mets long man role.

The Bench

  1. Wilmer Floresdownload (3)
  2. Juan Lagares
  3. Alejandro De Aza
  4. Kevin Plawecki
  5. Eric Campbell

Thanks to additions to the Mets starting lineup, players that were expected to get major at-bats like De Aza and Flores now become solid and versatile bench players. Flores will help Wright at third and will back up at short and second. Neil Walker didn’t hit lefties much last season so Flores could get at-bats at second vs. lefties. Expect Flores to play a lot this season even though he isn’t an “everyday player” anymore.

While Juan Lagares is a very good center fielder expect him to play some left field as a defensive replacement for Conforto. Terry Collins is wary of moving Cespedes all around the outfield so Lagares may not play much center field while Yoenis is in the game.

The Mets were interested in finding a backup catcher so Kevin Plawecki wouldn’t be sitting on the bench so often but they haven’t found a player they like yet so Kevin stays on this list. The Mets believe an extra 200 plate appearances for Plawecki in the minors would really help his development offensively. Thanks to the trade of Ruben Tejada, Eric Campbell makes the club as the 25th man. Campbell has struggled in the majors the past few seasons but has had a strong spring and can play the infield and outfield corners. A majority of Terry Collins’ bench can play multiple positions.

With two weeks to go still before the season, injuries can alter this list. On paper this is a very strong roster that should have Citi Field buzzing all summer. Do you agree with this 25-man roster projection?

By Steven Inman 

Yoenis Cespedes has been key to the Mets revival

Yoenis Cespedes has been key to the Mets revival

All season the Mets have been thought of as solid team that is two or three bats away from seriously competing. Things changed last week with the promotion of Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud’s return from a lengthy DL stint. The team all of a sudden looked like it could stay competitive against the big bad Nationals but things changed drastically when Sandy Alderson made the big trade that fans have been clamoring for when he traded top prospect Michael Fulmer and prospect Luis Cessa for Yoenis Cespedes.

Cespedes has been great early on as a Met. The slugger has 5 RBI in 6 games since arriving in New York. He has been a great baserunner and has looked solid in both left field and centerfield. Perhaps most importantly pitchers now are being forced to throw fastballs to Lucas Duda who has torn the cover off the ball since the new lineup addition. The Mets are 6-0 since Cespedes joined the lineup.

Cespedes, 29, will be a free agent this offseason and many have speculated that he could be looking for a contract around what Shin-Soo Choo got from the Rangers a few winters ago, 7 years, $130 million. Many have speculated that with a strong finish that Cespedes can prove that he is a franchise player, capable of carrying a team to the playoffs. If that happens expect the Cuban outfielder to get even more than the $130M.

Even if the Mets were willing to pay that contract Cespedes has a unique clause in his contract that states he must be released from his contract 5 days after the World Series. When you release a player you cannot bring him back to the franchise until past May 15th. So in other words, if Cespedes can’t agree to a contract extension with the Mets by the end of October he will be elsewhere next season. Even if the Mets wanted to commit to Cespedes long-term they likely would have to severely overpay to prevent him from hitting the free agent market.

With all that it is highly unlikely that Cespedes is a Met next season. Perhaps with the Mets playing better and getting more fans at Citi Field it will help add needed revenue needed to replace Cespedes in the lineup next season. The front office clearly understands that the club needs a big bat preferably right-handed behind Duda so even if Yoenis isn’t a Met next season expect them to bring in somebody who can drive in runs.

That being said, on this website and many others like it we no longer need to talk about the future. The Mets are in win-now mode and a very entertaining division chase with the Washington Nationals. The Mets own one of the better pitching staffs in franchise history and are armed with a lineup that is finally component enough not to drag the arms down. The 9-year playoff drought has a legit chance of ending this season. So enjoy it Met fans, I know I will.

By Steven Inman

Sandy Alderson continues to sit on his hands while his team continues to lose ground

Sandy Alderson continues to sit on his hands while his team continues to lose ground

If you haven’t noticed, the Mets are in a tailspin. The Nationals are running away with the NL East and the Mets at the halfway mark of the season are at 41-40. They are entering the toughest part of their schedule that will see them continue on the dreaded West Coast Trip against two World Series contenders, finishing the series with the Dodgers and then the Giants. Unlike Willie Randolph a few years back, you should expect Terry Collins to make it back from this difficult West Coast trip but Collins doesn’t exactly have a long leash.

If Terry goes, Sandy should follow him out the door.

Sandy Alderson was brought in here because the Wilpon’s have no interest or ability to add payroll. They felt that a baseball man like Alderson who had experience running low budget teams like the A’s and the Padres would do just fine with their situation.

Whether that was right or wrong Alderson accepted the challenge. His plan was simple, wait out some of the Mets bad contracts and develop the Mets minor league system. He has done a fine job of that as baseball considers the Mets having a top five farm system, headlined by 2014 first round pick Michael Conforto. The outfielder is blazing through the minor leagues and should be considered for Triple A, if not the big leagues pretty soon.

Having said that, Alderson hasn’t done much else besides that improved system. When you are a small payroll team (no question the Mets are now) you have to develop your minor league system and then lock up your young stars before they get expensive. Alderson hasn’t attempted to lock up any of the Mets young pitchers to date. He’s running out of time to do so as some of them begin arbitration this winter. Alderson’s lack of urgency on seemingly everything is very alarming. He called the Mets beat reporters and fans the citizens of “Panic City” when he was questioned about his lack of movement this week while the team continues to free fall.

Alderson continues to alienate the fans as if its his job. The comments joking about the franchise such as “what outfield?” and “the Mets only reimburse gas at a downhill rate” continue to make fans irate. Most of Alderson’s jokes have been about the teams finances and with a passionate fan base that is having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, it is difficult to understand why Alderson continues to “poke the bear”.

Buster Olney of ESPN described the current state of the Mets on a recent telecast as “a burning building and nobody is doing anything about it”

The Mets currently have the 21st highest payroll in the sport so it’s not like they are completely without resources to use.  All of the big contracts Sandy Alderson has brought in as GM of the Mets have been poorly spent or worse.

The two most expensive deals Sandy Alderson has made in free agency are currently playing corner outfield for the Amazins. Curtis Granderson has batted .235/.333/.403 in 236 games as a Met. He has been incredibly streaky and his outfield defense has declined over the past few seasons. The Mets have bigger problems than Granderson but he hasn’t been worth the 4-year $60 million contract he received.

Michael Cuddyer has been a disaster for Sandy Alderson and the Mets. Cuddyer is batting .242/.296/.364 in his first season in Queens. Cuddyer, 36, is battling a knee injury that might plague him for the rest of the season. At this point in his career he really is a DH who shouldn’t be playing everyday to keep him fresh. Not only are the Mets going to be stuck with Cuddyer’s $12.5 million contract in 2016 but the Mets also gave up their 2015 first round pick for the former Rockie along with the pool money that goes with it. Cuddyer’s contract is going to be very difficult to operate around going forward. His bat has slowed to the point that he has become a guess hitter which has really hurt his plate discipline in 2015. Cuddyer used to be a guy who wouldn’t strike out much…

Michael Cuddyer has been a disaster with the Mets and his contract will tie the club up in 2016 as well

Michael Cuddyer has been a disaster with the Mets and his contract will tie the club up in 2016 as well

While Marlon Byrd was a good pickup a few years back, but he wasn’t brought back for Chris Young who was a very regrettable signing by Alderson.

Alderson has spent the rest of his small budgets on bullpens. All of the relievers brought in by Alderson on major league deals haven’t worked out. Players like Frank FranciscoJon RauchD.J. Carrasco all performed very poorly when brought in by the Mets.

Alderson and company have flat out been too patient to help this team be successful. Besides letting a potential playoff team die without any reinforcements in ’15, the team also took far too long assessing their own players. The Lucas DudaIke Davis dilemma took far too long causing the Mets to be unable to get anything of value for Davis. The same situation occurred with Dillon Gee who is being paid $5.3M to pitch in Las Vegas. His decision to keep Wilmer Flores at shortstop as long as they did remains a head scratcher.

With the Mets falling out of the race quickly, Sandy Alderson had to do something bold. He could have traded a few lesser prospects to get Ben Zobrist or even called up his own uber prospect Conforto, instead he and his staff just sat on their hands, leaving this team to figure something out themselves.

If anyone should be on the hot seat its Sandy not Terry.

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

Sandy Alderson's top prospects are highly regarded throughout baseball

Sandy Alderson’s top prospects are highly regarded throughout baseball

The Mets offense has been dismal this year. Sandy Alderson has attempted to build an offense of power and patience but to date has failed miserably. The Mets are 25th in both runs and slugging percentage. Alderson signings such as Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson haven’t displayed any reason for hope that the Mets offensive struggles will change any time soon. That being said, there is hope and that hope comes from the Mets minor league system.

The Mets collected a great group of minor league arms with Steven Matz the last of that group still in the minors. Matz should be in the bigs around the All-Star Break. All of those pitchers have lived up to the hype so far. Now we could be seeing the new wave of Mets prospects, the position player side.

Led by 2014 first round pick Michael Conforto, the Mets have quietly accrued a group of solid position player prospects. Here are the guys that could balance out the Mets lineup in the next few seasons.

Michael Conforto- Although Michael is the newest player to the Mets farm system of this group, he likely will be the quickest one to the majors. Conforto is hitting .375 in Binghamton (AA) after starting the season in St. Lucie. Conforto has a quick bat and looks to be an upcoming star. Ideally he gets to Las Vegas (AAA) by September if the 51’s make the playoffs, which would allow him to be a phone call away next season. Conforto came into the draft last season with a reputation that he would have to be hidden somewhere defensively but the Mets have been very impressed with his outfield play and his bat will work well in left field.

Dom Smith– This sweet swinging first baseman is probably awhile away but the Mets have been impressed with his at bats. Don’t be alarmed by the lack of power (2 homers) as St. Lucie and the Florida State League is a very difficult environment to hit. Smith reminds me of a James Loney type of player. Expect him to hit for a high average but home runs will always be a question when you play first base.

Gavin Cecchini– Perhaps the biggest surprise of all of the Mets minor leaguers, Cecchini has emerged as a legitimate shortstop option for the Mets going forward. He is hitting over .320 in Binghamton (AA) and has played a strong shortstop defensively. There was serious question whether his bat would hit enough for him to play one position everyday. Now it’s looking like Gavin can stick. He’s only 21 years old so expect him to continue to grow offensively.

Brandon Nimmo- Sandy Alderson’s first draft pick as Mets General Manager got off to a rocky start to his Met tenure. Nimmo has slowly moved up the minor league ladder and can legitimately get to the big leagues by the end of next season. He was on the DL for a little bit but like Conforto it would be a big accomplishment if the outfielder could reach Las Vegas (AAA) this season. The concern with Nimmo is can he hit left-handed pitching. If not he’ll be a fine platoon player in the Mets outfield.

Amed Rosario– Out of this group of prospects, Rosario is probably the rawest but most scouts seem to like him more than just about any other Met prospect. The Mets aren’t sure if he will stick at shortstop but most think the bat will develop. Don’t expect to see Amed anytime soon in the majors however.

Sandy Alderson has rightfully taken a lot of criticism for his sculpting of the Mets lineup but if most of these five position players can hit in the big leagues then Alderson’s tenure as Mets GM will be deemed a success, it’s that simple. All five of these players were signed by Alderson and his staff. According to MLB.com, eight of the Mets top ten prospects are now position players, a drastic change from where the Mets were a year ago.

The Mets are going to have to pay their young pitchers in the next few years so getting impact bats at the major league level making the league minimum would be huge.

Which Met position prospect are you most excited to see?

By Steven Inman

If the Mets were right, Michael Conforto can breeze through the minor leagues

If the Mets were right, Michael Conforto can breeze through the minor leagues

When Sandy Alderson became general manager of the New York Mets, his plan was to build a competitive team in the short-term while creating a great minor league farm system in the long-term. While the former hasn’t happened the ladder is actually coming together. The Mets farm was ranked in the mid-20’s when Alderson and company took over. In Keith Law of ESPN’s bi-annual prospect ranking he ranked the Mets farm fourth best in all of baseball.

In Law’s top 50 midseason prospect rewrite (Insiders Only), four Mets prospects made his top 50. Noah Syndergaard (16), Michael Conforto (32) Brandon Nimmo (34) and Dom Smith (49) all made Law’s top 50.

Syndergaard has had a rough year in Triple-A. His ERA is over five, he has spent time on the disabled list, and there is a chance now that we don’t even see him in the majors this season. That being said in the extreme hitter friendly PCL him just racking up innings has to be seen as a positive. Syndergaard is actually only 21 and seems to get better every time he advances a level with exception of this season of course. He should be fine and compete for a rotation spot early next season.

LF Michael Conforto made his professional debut for the Cyclones a few days ago. Unlike other top picks in the Sandy Alderson era, Conforto is expected to reach the big leagues rather quickly. Some have even predicted he would be the first from the 2014 draft class to reach the majors. While I wouldn’t go as far to say that since the Mets are generally much slower at advancing their prospects, Conforto should provide the Mets power rather soon.

Brandon Nimmo is the surprise on this list. He was constantly compared to all-star starter Jose Fernandez after Miami selected their flamethrower one pick after the Mets selected Nimmo. Nimmo didn’t show much power until this season when he escaped Savannah. Savannah’s park has always seemed to zap left –handed hitters of their power. Nimmo is hitting .282 along with a .411 OBP, nine homers and 40 RBI in 92 games between High-A and Double-A this season. Nimmo looks like he can legitimately contribute in some way to the Mets next season.

Lastly Dom Smith has also performed well against older completion in Savannah. The first basemen is hitting .299 with a .357 OBP in a tough place to hit. Like Nimmo it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he breaks out “power wise” next season when he gets away from the Sand Gnats.

It is very surprising to me after all of these years that three of the Mets four top prospects are now position players. The Mets are going to need to continue to develop these guys to help fix what is currently a poor major league offense.