Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mets Add a Big Bat to the Fold

Shale Briskin
MM Editor

Two weeks after signing Adrian Gonzalez to a one-year contract,  the Mets made another big addition to the lineup by signing third baseman Todd Frazier to a two-year $17 million contract

The New Jersey native split the 2017 season between the Chicago White Sox and the crosstown New York Yankees. His combined totals included 27 home runs and 76 RBI, despite a .213 average. He also provides a solid glove at third base, a position the Mets have had trouble filling since David Wright's back problems began in 2015.

The Mets' infield is now set for Opening Day, with Gonzalez at first base, Asdrubal Cabrera moving to second base, Frazier at third base and the rookie Amed Rosario at shortstop. The Mets will also have Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores providing solid bench depth, with T.J. Rivera working to recover from Tommy John surgery he had in September.

Offensively, the Mets certainly look better now than they did at the start of the offseason. Here is what a possible Opening Day lineup could consist of. Keep in mind Michael Conforto is not likely to return to the lineup until May

1. CF Brandon Nimmo/Juan Lagares
2. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
3. LF Yoenis Cespedes
4. RF Jay Bruce
5. 3B Todd Frazier
6. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
7. SS Amed Rosario
8. C Travis d'Arnaud/Kevin Plawecki

Nimmo and Lagares are likely to platoon in center field through April. The Mets have made it clear that the d'Arnaud and Plawecki platoon late in the 2017 season is likely to continue into the 2018 season. Both of course are right-handed hitters, but a splitting of time could help each of them thrive offensively.

On the pitching side, the Mets are still testing the waters on possibly adding a veteran starting pitcher into the rotation. The Mets already have Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard anchoring the rotation, plus Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo providing good young depth. Robert Gsellman is another starting pitcher on the depth chart, but after a rough 2017 season, Gsellman will likely get sent to the bullpen as a long reliever or start the season in Triple A.

The bullpen is more or less set for Opening Day. Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, Jerry Blevins and Anthony Swarzak will be the popular late-inning options. The rest of the bullpen will probably be determined during Spring Training, with Paul Sewald, Hansel Robles, Jamie Callahan, Jacob Rhame, Rafael Montero and the aforementioned Gsellman all being potential options. Furthermore, the loser of the rotation battle between Matz, Wheeler and Lugo will almost certainly get sent to the bullpen instead of starting the season at Triple A.

The Mets' 2018 roster is shaping up to be a real contender. Whether they can actually stay healthy and give the Nationals a run for their money in the division remains to be seen, but the potential certainly is there. Pitchers and catchers will report to Port St. Lucie on Feb. 12, while the first full team workout will be a week later on the 19th. I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait for this season to get started!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Welcome to 2018!

Shale Briskin
MM Editor

Hey, everyone! This blog obviously hasn't been touched in nearly 4 years, but I'm back! Let's get caught up as to what has been going on during this 2018 offseason.

New Manager

Back in October, the Mets hired Mickey Callaway to become the 21st manager in team history. Callaway had been the Indians' pitching coach since 2013 and helped develop a strong pitching staff that led the AL in both ERA and strikeouts last season.

After his hiring, Callaway added some new faces to the Mets coaching staff, including bench coach Gary DiSarcina, first base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. (who was formerly the Phillies' general manager), pitching coach Dave Eiland, and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater, with Pat Roessler getting promoted to hitting coach. Third base coach Glenn Sherlock remains on the staff from last season, as does bullpen coach Ricky Bones. The Eiland hiring was met with negative feedback from Mets fans over the dismissal of former pitching coach Dan Warthen. Hopefully, Callaway and his coaches can help the Mets get back to where they were in 2015 and 2016.

Alderson Gets an Extension and Hires a Familiar Face 

This is not exactly front page news, but general manager Sandy Alderson received a contract extension earlier this offseason, but the length of the deal was not disclosed.

Alderson also hired former Mets general manager Omar Minaya to be a special assistant. Minaya had been Alderson's predecessor, running the Mets from 2005-2010. This type of move does not happen often, with a current general manager hiring his predecessor as an assistant, which may have some fans thinking the Mets are moving backwards. However, Minaya is still a very good at player development, so hopefully he can become an asset in the front office once again.

Mets Add to the Bullpen

The only notable official Mets signing this offseason has been right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak, who signed a 2-year $14 million deal during the Winter Meetings in December. Swarzak went 6-4 with a 2.32 ERA last season with the White Sox and Brewers. Swarzak has spent most of his career to this point with the Twins, and has also spent time with the Indians and Yankees.

Swarzak should provide an additional right-handed power arm in the late innings to go along with Jerry Blevins, A.J. Ramos and closer Jeurys Familia. The Mets have been clear with their desire to improve the bullpen and in a new era where relievers have bigger roles and more value to a team, it's an area teams will want to have covered throughout the course of a season.

A Reunion is Underway

Just hours ago, a source revealed that the Mets will be bringing Jay Bruce back into the fold. Bruce has yet to pass a physical, but the expected terms are for 3 years and $39 million. Bruce had already been a Met from August 2016 through August of 2017, when he was dealt to the Indians in a waiver trade for pitching prospect Ryder Ryan.

Bruce is coming off a 2017 season that included a career-high 36 homers (29 of which were as a Met), along with 29 doubles, 101 RBI and an .832 OPS. He will provide some much needed power for a Mets lineup that could certainly use more power.

While Bruce will likely get penciled in as the #5 hitter behind Michael Conforto (when he returns to the field) and Yoenis Cespedes, it's his role on the field that has yet to be determined. Bruce is a natural right fielder, but has experience at first base. The Mets lack a true starting center fielder, but also have a young first baseman in Dominic Smith that may need more development in the minor leagues. Depending on whether the Mets sign or trade for a new center fielder, Bruce should find time both in the outfield and at first base.

What's Next?

For the Mets to get back to the postseason this year, they will have to address more needs and of course, stay as healthy as possible.

Second base remains a question mark for the Mets right now. There are in-house candidates such as Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery), plus former 1st round pick Gavin Cecchini, who had 77 at-bats late last season. The Mets could also sign or trade for a third baseman and move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base. Third basemen Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier are both still on the free agent market, while former Mets second baseman Neil Walker is also a free agent. The Mets are likely to wait and hope for one or more of these players to potentially lower their signing demands or see how the rest of the market shakes up.

As for center field, the Mets currently have Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares as their primary center fielders. Both are young and have potential, but neither will stand out within the Mets lineup right now. Lorenzo Cain is the top free agent center fielder and would be a very good fit with the Mets, both offensively and defensively. Cespedes and Conforto will man left and right field, respectively for the foreseeable future, so it's important for the Mets to find themselves a reliable center fielder, which they haven't had since Carlos Beltran from 2005-2010. Beltran spent his final season with the Mets as a right fielder.

On the pitching front, it looks as if the Mets will stick with their young crop of starting pitchers and not add a veteran to the mix. This could mean a projected rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. The Mets also have Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as further rotation options and at least one of these two could still make the Opening Day roster within the bullpen. The Mets needed 12 different starting pitchers to get through the 2017 season, so there is no such thing as too much pitching depth. All seven of these pitchers should play key roles this season.

Hopefully, at least one of these holes get filled before Spring Training! But for now, let's all welcome back Jay Bruce to New York!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rest In Peace, Ralph Kiner!

Ralph Kiner was an original Mets broadcaster since 1962.

Shale Briskin
MM Assistant Editor

Hi everyone. It's been a while since anyone here has checked in, and with that being said, I will soon post my offseason recap once we get even closer to spring training.

However, some very tragic news occurred today within the Mets family. Ralph Kiner, one of the Mets' original announcers passed away today at the age of 91.

Kiner first came to fame as a slugger with the Pittsburgh Pirates, whom he played for from 1946-1953. The Hall of Famer hit 369 career home runs in just ten seasons and led the National League in home runs in each of his first seven seasons. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.

Kiner, Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson were the three announcers that were with the Mets since the beginning. Kiner eventually did just television work, while Murphy went to radio. Even in recent years, when Kiner's health was declining, he would still come out to Shea Stadium, and later, Citi Field to be in the broadcast booth, which appropriately is named after him and watch the Mets play.

Kiner had also hosted his legendary post-game show, "Kiner's Korner", in which he would interview various players after each game.

Kiner will be dearly missed by both the Pirates and Mets families, as well as by fans from both teams. He is survived by his five children and twelve grand-children. I can only imagine the Mets will wear a commemorative patch this season on their uniforms in his honor, like they did for the late Gary Carter in 2012.

On a personal note, I didn't get to see Ralph announce as much as some of the older fans did, but every time he was in the booth, I'd always listen closely because he would tell great stories of the past and I enjoyed every one of them. I will truly miss him! Rest in peace, Ralph!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday shopping season has officially started, what do you say Mr Alderson?

David Wright wearing the Mets' alternate colors
David Wright wearing the Mets' alternate colors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
New York Mets 3B David Wright
New York Mets 3B David Wright (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: NY Mets GM Sandy Alderson with sports...
English: NY Mets GM Sandy Alderson with sportswriter Tom Verducci in 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wendy Adair

Well the holiday season has officially started, and Christmas is only a few weeks away. 

Sandy Alderson has promised time and time again that this winter will be different, in his words "i have to watch these games too" so it is clearly in everyone's best interest that he be active, both in the Free Agent Market and looking for trade partners.

The Winter Meetings will begin later this week and that will be a sure measure of how active the Mets management will be this winter.  A few weeks ago, the GM meetings were held and there has been conversations with different GMs regarding players that would help the Mets have a relevant 2014 season.

While many fans want spending to be excessive, Alderson knows that the spending needs to be smart and long term based, not the instant gratification purchasing that may help in 2014 but would be detrimental within five years with bad contracts.

Last season, the priority was David Wright, as was prudent, he is clearly the face and voice of the team, and is very well respected by fans, players, managers, coaches and even media outlets throughout the country.  Alderson has said repeatedly that Wright's contract of 8 years for $138 Million will not be repeated, but knew that investing in Wright for several years is in the best interest of the Mets and all of New York.

Before Wright signed last winter, he was assured by management that the team's finances would have greater flexibility this year.  He was also sold on the fact that there is a solid plan in place by management.

Well Mr Alderson, your shopping season has started, how will you spend and on whom?

Fans and your team's Captain are anxiously waiting for answers and solutions.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Baseball is a year round event, just ask Mets Captain, David Wright

Sandy Alderson
Sandy Alderson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wendy Adair

The GM Meetings are being held this week and there is no question that Sandy Alderson has a major shopping list for this fall and winter.

Many Mets fans are speculating who will be wearing Mets blue and orange in 2014, that remains a mystery but the one thing you can depend on is David Wright being a major force even this offrseason.

His hamstring injury was devastating in the second half of 2013, and true fans admire his determination to rejoin the team for the last ten games of the season and show his teammates how to rehab from injury.

He is an incredible example of how the game should be played and how to handle yourself on and off the field.

Wright is making recruiting phone calls and texts to free agents, trying his best to convince them to be his teammates and get the Mets fans a contending team next summer.

The best selling point would be the talent on the field but having an ambassador in David Wright is the next best thing.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Matt Harvey Will Have Tommy John Surgery and Miss the 2014 Season

The Mets' offseason should become even more eventful now that Matt Harvey will not be a part of the team in 2014.

Shale Briskin
MM Assistant Editor

The Mets have just learned that their star ace pitcher Matt Harvey has decided to go under the knife and have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow after further discussions with his doctors. Harvey was originally going to do a 6-8 week throwing program to see the condition his elbow was in, but apparently, he has decided to just have the surgery and prepare for 2015.

The typical time frame for recovery from Tommy John surgery takes a full year, which should put Harvey in great shape to be ready for Spring Training in 2015. This is obviously a huge blow to the Mets, who are primed to have a big offseason and turn the team into a winning ballclub in 2014. The Mets are already in need of a new shortstop and one or two new outfielders. But now, a veteran starting pitcher has become an even greater need than before.

Fans should not worry too much about the Mets' pitching for 2014. Harvey may have been their best pitcher in 2013, but the Mets are fortunate to have a lot of young pitching depth. Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee will lead the rotation. The other two spots could be filled by free agents, or internally by pitchers like Carlos Torres or Jenrry Mejia, among others.

Furthermore, the Mets' top two pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero could both be major league ready sometime in 2014. The safe bet is that they will both make their major league debuts in June 2014 or later, as evidenced by the way the Mets transitioned Wheeler to the major leagues this season. Jacob deGrom is another option, but does not present as much potential as Syndergaard or Montero.

All in all, don't hit the panic button just yet! Losing Matt Harvey for 2014 is obviously terrible for the Mets, but even if he was healthy, the Mets still have a lot of work to do in order to have a better team next season. There are still issues at first base, shortstop, in the outfield and in the bullpen that would still be pressing issues regardless of Harvey's status. One player does not represent an entire team. There are 25 players on a roster and each and every one of them is important to a team's overall success. Let's hope Sandy Alderson and his assistants can use this offseason to put together a winning Mets team for 2014 and beyond!

For more on Harvey's injury, please click on the following link:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why Mets Fans Should Be Excited for the Offseason

General manager Sandy Alderson has a big offseason ahead of him.
Shale Briskin
MM Assistant Editor
As the Mets' 2013 season comes to an end, they will be nearing what could be a fascinating offseason. The Mets have not had a winning season since 2008, but after rebuilding for the past five seasons, the Mets could be ready for a transition season in 2014.
To put together a winning team, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and his assistants will have to decide which players could be part of the solution, and which players could be traded in exchange for solutions in other areas.
The Mets have a good number of pieces to build on for the future, but there is also a lot of work to be done in certain areas. Here are six reasons why Mets fans should expect big changes to occur this offseason.
1. The Mets Will Have More Money to Work With
The Mets' finances in recent times have not been particularly good at all. For a few too many seasons, the Mets made poor financial decisions with the contracts they gave to certain players.
Most of the mess, though, should fall on former Mets general manager Omar Minaya, who during his six-year tenure signed quite a few bad contracts. Pedro Martinez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez and Oliver Perez are all good examples of lucrative contracts given by the Mets that did not end up paying off too well.
Two more big contracts, though, have remained through this current season.
Former two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana, who has not pitched all season, is on the final year of a six-year $137.5 million contract. Santana has a $25 million option for 2014, but it would make no sense at this point for the Mets to keep him for another season.
The other large contract was that of Jason Bay, the former Mets outfielder. Bay had signed a four-year $66 million contract prior to the 2010 season, but performed so poorly for the Mets from 2010-2012 that both sides mutually agreed to end his contract a year early and make him a free agent.
The good news is that both Santana's and Bay's contracts will be off the books after the end of the 2013 season. That will be around $41.5 million that the Mets will save in 2014. This means the Mets could use this money to improve other areas of the team. The Mets were not really able to do this for years while the bad contracts existed.
Going forward, David Wright's contract will be the only particularly large contract the Mets will have. More financial flexibility is always good for a team to have, and hopefully the Mets will be able to take advantage of this.
2. The Mets Should Be Closer to Contention
The Mets have not had a winning season since 2008. Ever since Sandy Alderson became the Mets general manager, the Mets have clearly been on a rebuilding path to success. For the past five years, the Mets have not had much financial flexibility, so they have used that time to develop young talent in the minor leagues.
With the 2013 season nearly over, the Mets' top prospects are getting closer and closer to being ready for the major leagues. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler are both mainstays in the pitching rotation for the future, along with the veteran southpaw Jon Niese.
Prospects such as Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero could make their major league debuts sometime in 2014. Syndergaard split 2013 with Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, while Montero was with Binghamton and later Triple-A Las Vegas. Montero has a chance to make the Opening Day 2014 roster.
As for Syndergaard, the Mets may bring him up next June—similar to what they did this season with Wheeler.
With rising pitching stars in Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Montero, plus veteran presences in Niese and Dillon Gee, the Mets' future pitching should not be too much of a concern as long as everyone stays healthy. The bullpen should continue to be anchored by Bobby Parnell as the closer, with Jeurys Familia and Josh Edgin expected to be among the young arms in the bullpen.
Offensively, the Mets as an organization are not as strong. They have a third baseman in David Wright, a young catcher in Travis d'Arnaud and a second baseman in Daniel Murphy. Beyond those three players, the other infield and outfield positions could all be up for grabs.
Now that the Mets will have more money to work with in free agency, they could go and sign a slugging outfielder to protect Wright in the lineup, or find a shortstop that can play reasonably well.
The Mets should be expected to bring in at least one notable hitter from free agency this offseason. A second notable hitter would be a bonus. The Mets could also use the trade market to acquire the offensive talent that they could really use. Time will tell how Alderson goes about putting together a winning team in 2014.
All in all, the Mets have young talent that is either on the major league roster or very close to being on the major league roster. They will need to use free agency and/or the trade market to fill in the remaining holes. After doing so, competing with the Braves and Nationals in the future could become more and more of a reality.

Matt Harvey's elbow injury could have significant effect on the Mets' 2014 plans.
3. The Need of Pitching Depth in Light of Matt Harvey's Injury
After Matt Harvey ended up suffering an elbow injury in late August, he was shut down for the season and facing the possibility of missing the entire 2014 season if he decided to have Tommy John surgery. However, on September 17, Harvey decided that he will avoid surgery—at least for now—and opt for a six to eight week throwing program to hopefully rehabilitate his elbow.
In case the program does not work out and Harvey will get surgery later, this would open a huge gap in the Mets starting rotation. The Mets could be forced to sign or trade for a veteran starting pitcher in the offseason because of Harvey's injury. It is a possibility that Sandy Alderson will probably explore.
With Wheeler, Niese and Gee all expected to be in the 2014 rotation, this would mean that the Mets may need to find two more starting pitchers in the offseason instead of one, depending on Harvey's status. Jenrry Mejia could be an option, but has yet to pitch in the major leagues for a full season. If the Mets keep Carlos Torres, he could be another possibility. Beyond that, the Mets do not have another proven major league starter in the organization.
It will be interesting to whether or not Harvey will end up having surgery in the winter, and if so how it will affect the Mets offseason and future plans.

Could this be the end of Ike Davis at first base for the Mets?
4. The Conundrum at First Base
First base is a position that was supposed to become a strength for the Mets, but has ended up as a weakness this year. Ike Davis hit 32 home runs and drove in 90 RBI in 2012 with a strong second half, but struggled mightily for much of this season and may not even be the Mets first baseman in 2014.
Despite his poor performance, Davis should be in line for a raise through arbitration. The Mets could give him that new salary or elect to non-tender him, making him a free agent. This will definitely be one of Alderson's toughest decisions to make this offseason. Will Davis get back to hitting the way he did in the second half of 2012? Or will he struggle as badly as he has in the first halves of each of the last two seasons?
Davis, though, is not the only piece to the puzzle at first base. There is also Lucas Duda, whose days in the outfield appear to be numbered. If that is the case, the Mets will have to trade or release one of Davis or Duda.
Despite his struggles, Davis is the more proven player and has usually provided good defense at first base, as well. Duda has not had as many opportunities at first base and is certainly not as proven offensively. But if the Mets simply get tired of Davis and want to try a full season of Duda at first base, they could very well take that route.
Duda, though, would probably be best off playing first base or being the designated hitter for an American League team.
Other internal options include Josh Satin and Wilmer Flores. There is the possibility that both Davis and Duda get traded and/or released, which would leave Satin or Flores to compete for the starting job at first base.
Satin is more likely to be a platoon candidate, while Flores is not a natural first baseman. That would be another interesting development in itself. The Mets could also bring in a first baseman from free agency or the trade market, but with so many internal options, that probably is not as likely to occur.
The Mets will have to figure out what to do at first base with all the options they have. It is too difficult to predict an outcome right now.

Ruben Tejada played well in 2012, but after a very poor 2013 season, the Mets may need to rethink what to do at shortstop.
5. The Mets Could Use a Better Shortstop
First base is not the Mets' only offensive position of concern. Shortstop has become another problem as well.
At shortstop, it seems like the Mets' plan was to have Ruben Tejada as the shortstop of the future after the departure of Jose Reyes following the 2011 season.
Tejada had a solid season in 2012, but really struggled early this season. He was batting .209 with 10 RBI, a .267 OBP and a .262 slugging percentage before being demoted to the minor leagues after being activated from the disabled list. Tejada was recently called back up and should get the bulk of the playing time at shortstop for the last two weeks of the season. 
In Tejada's absence, journeyman infielder Omar Quintanilla filled in at shortstop for well over three months. Quintanilla is batting .226 with two home runs, 21 RBI, a .313 OBP and a .291 slugging percentage for the season. Quintanilla has done well as a fill-in starter and regular backup, but he should not be the long-term solution at shortstop.
With Gavin Cecchini still years away from being in the major leagues, it is important for the Mets to address the state of their shortstop position for at least the next few seasons. Signing a free agent could be a short-term option, while the Mets could also choose to stick with the young Tejada for another season and hope that it works out better.

Juan Lagares should be the one safe bet among current Mets outfielders that could start in 2014.
6. The Outfield Needs a Big Makeover
The outfield is the Mets' most pressing issue offensively. Juan Lagares could very well be the Mets center fielder of the future, but left field and right field are both still up for grabs.
Lagares was initially a platoon center fielder, but with improved hitting and breathtaking defense, he has certainly earned the starting job he now has. If any current Mets outfielder could be a lock to start in 2014, it would be Lagares.
Lagares' defense is already above average. If his hitting continues to improve, the Mets could have a very solid role player anchoring the outfield. For the season, Lagares is batting .256 with four home runs, 30 RBI, a .295 OBP and a .371 slugging percentage.
The other two outfield positions are now the larger concerns. Eric Young Jr. has played reasonably well as the Mets left fielder since June with a .256 average, one home run, 21 RBI, a .331 OBP and a .338 slugging percentage since being acquired from the Rockies. He has also brought some much needed speed with 38 stolen bases this season (30 as a Met).
The Mets did not have this kind of speed at all in 2012, so that has been one upgrade this season. Young could be better off as a fourth outfielder on a more elite team and if the Mets can find an upgrade at left field, Young could be sent to the bench.
Right field this season was mostly handled by Marlon Byrd until his trade to the Pirates in August.
Going forward, none of the Mets' right field options look particularly promising. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter and Andrew Brown all do not have significant experience as everyday players. The Mets could also choose to go with a more defensive oriented outfield if they feel like Matt den Dekker's defense would be good enough to make up for his weaker bat. Being that Lagares has a very good and accurate outfield arm, the Mets could put him in right field and den Dekker in center field if both are in the outfield.
In the minor leagues, most of the Mets' remaining outfield prospects, aside from den Dekker, are not close to being major league ready. Such outfield prospects would include Cesar Puello, Cory Vaughn and Brandon Nimmo, among others.
Nonetheless, the Mets could really use a significant upgrade in the outfield this offseason, and if any outfield position is most likely to look different in 2014, it would probably be right field. Lagares has proven himself to be an everyday center fielder and Eric Young Jr.'s speed could be enough to keep him in left field.
There is no clear cut starter right now in right field for 2014, so look for the Mets to find an answer there.