Darrell Ceciliani Shouldn’t Be on the 40 Man Roster

There has been a lot of handwringing over the Mets choices over the 40 Man Roster. There are quality prospects now exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Some pointed to Eric Campbell still being on the roster. I don’t like how the Ruben Tejada situation is impacting the roster. Mostly, I don’t understand how Darrell Ceciliani is on the 40 Man Roster. 

I know it was a very small sample size, but Ceciliani showed us nothing that would lead you to believe he’s a major league player. In 39 games last year, Ceciliani hit .206/.270/.279. He had more strikeouts than hits. He struck out in one-third if his plate appearances. His OPS+ was 55, which is just abysmal. Really, the only good thing you could say about him was he was an adequate fielder

Now, he’s only 25, and he’s still a prospect. However, he’s not really a good prospect. Essentially, he’s projected to be a 4th OF. It’s nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also not a reason to let better prospects walk. Keep in mind Ceciliani’s potential role with the team is already filled by Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis has at least showed that he can be a good pinch hitter, pinch runner, and/or platoon option for Juan Lagares

Unfortunately, the Mets went with Ceciliani over the pitching prospects and/or Wuilmer Becerra. I don’t understand the logic. The Mets are sacrificing players who may very well be selected in the Rule 5 draft for a player who might not have even been claimed off waivers. 

Ceciliani should not be on the 40 man roster. 

So the Mets Don’t Like Sabermetrics?

If you’ve read the book or saw the movie Moneyball, you’ve heard of Sabermetrics. Note, don’t rely on anything in that movie as to what Sabermetrics actually is. In actuality, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard of or has an opinion on it. 

Part of the fame of this Mets front office is they were there from the beginning. They seemed to not only understand Sabermetrics, but also how to properly utilize it in roster construction. As an organization, they seem to like their decision makers to be adept at understanding and utilizing Sabermetrics. They don’t seem to want their prospects to share the same enthusiasm. 

The reason I say this is because the Mets did not add Matt Bowman or Paul Sewald to the 40 man roster. Bowman was a starter in AAA. Sewald was a closer in AA. Besides being pitchers left off the 40 man roster, these pitchers have something else in common: they both attempt to use Sabermetrics in their pitching. 

Sewald has said how he specifically uses it. He looks at factors that help improve his FIP. That includes pitching to scouting reports, keeping notes on his pitches, and trying to strikeout the batter, especially when there’s two strikes. He uses every advantage he’s got to get batters out, and he needs to with a 91 MPH fastball. 

Bowman is more interested not in FIP per as, but the future of analyzing defense, which he believes could identify undervalued pitchers on the market. It’s ironic considering he wasn’t added to the 40 man roster. Bowman has such an interest in Sabermetrics that he studied it at Princeton. In addition to defense, he also looks at pitch tracking, the revolutions of his pitches, and how using both can help him keep the ball down. 

While it’s refreshing to see two young pitchers do everything they can to help their game and get to the majors. Unfortunately, the Mets don’t see the progressive thinking is enough. Ultimately, talent is what carries the day. Many will disagree with the choices. The Mets judgment of their own pitching has been very suspect. However, the Mets still need to select the 40 best players to be on the roster, no matter how long they’ll be there

Overall, these pitchers should be credited for helping their careers by using Sabermetrics even if the Mets use of the same has indicated to them that these players weren’t worth protecting from the Rule 5 draft.  If selected, their new organizations will be better for having quality arms who have used Sabermetrics to learn how to pitch. 

Mets Better Tender Tejada a Contract Now

Yesterday, the Mets made their additions to the 40 man roster to protect their prospects from the Rule 5 draft.  I can understand only having 39 players on the roster because if there’s a player available, you want the roster space to select that player. If you’re roster is at 40, you’re not permitted to make a Rule 5 draft selection. 

What I can’t understand is if the Mets lose a prospect and non-tender Ruben Tejada later. The rumors have been circling the Mets want to non-tender Tejada because he’s too expensive. That merits its own separate argument (it’s a dumb move).  I only bring it up here because if you know you’re not keeping him, why let him stand in the way of keeping a prospect?

For me personally, there were two players who were non-tendered that jumped right out: Wuilmer Becerra and Matt Bowman. Now, there are legitimate reasons to expose these players to the Rule 5 draft. Becerra has never played above A ball and is really two plus years away from being able to play in the majors. Bowman had a horrific year last year. 

I also suspect both will be taken in the Rule 5 draft. They both could return to the Mets. However, if a team like the Braves picks them up, they’ll probably stay there all year as the Braves seem to be renting the 2015 Mets June offense. If either of these players are taken the Mets made a critical and unacceptable mistake. 

Essentially, they’re sacrificing players for no good reason. If you’re non-tendering Tejada, do it now. Protect another player from the Rule 5 draft. Why let Tejada stand in the way of the Mets keeping Becerra who could be a fixture in the Mets outfield for years to come?  Why let Tejada stand in the way of Bowman rebounding and becoming a big trade chip and/or a contributed in 2016?  If the reports are true about Tejada, the handling of the 40 man roster is just negligent. 

The Mets have created a situation where they need to keep Tejada, not just for an option at shortstop, but also as justification for losing two prospects for nothing. If they let Tejada walk, they may lose three players over $3 million. Absurd. 

Clock Has Officially Started on Nimmo

The first ever draft pick by the Samdy Alderson regime with the Mets was Brandon Nimmo. Today, he should be added to the 40 man roster, and he looks like he will begin the year in AAA. 

When the Mets drafted him, they were just drafting on potential. Sure, you could make that argument with any first round pick, but it really applied to Nimmo. He played in Wyoming, a state that produces very few major league players. He showed glimpses of being a give tool player, but in a state like Wyoming, who really knows?

The Mets knew he was a long term project. That’s fine. You draft the best talent. He’s definitely talented. He’s a Top 100 MLB prospect and the Mets number two overall prospect (behind Steven Matz). He’s shown he can handle centerfield everyday. He’s got good speed and a good arm. While he may not have 20 home run power, he’s got a good eye and he’s a contact hitter. In his minor league career, he’s hit .263/.383/.391. After his call-up to AAA last year, he hit .264/.393/418 in 32 games. 

It’s possible he gets called up in 2016. It’s even more possible he gets called-up in 2017. Fact is, the sooner he’s ready the better. Right now, the Mets seem to want a platoon bat in CF for Juan Lagares. They deem this such a need they’re talking with players who can’t play the position. Personally, I’d let Kirk Nieuwenhuis be the platoon option until Nimmo is ready. It’s not like Kirk is any worse than the other options. I believe everyone in the Mets organization wants Nimmo to force them to make the decision. 

That’s why the clock is ticking. Everyone is waiting for him to take over CF. We’re looking forward to seeing Nimmo and Michael Conforto continue to drive each other to become the best players they can be. If they bring out the best in one another just watch out when they’re reunited in the majors. 

I’d like to see Nimmo get his chance. I’d hate to see him blocked by what will be an albatross of a contract. Right now, it’s up to him. Conforto forced his way to the majors. Nimmo has to be the same. He’s now on the 40 man roster, which means there’s one less hurdle. 

Soon, it will be Nimmo’s time. 

Conforto Still Here?

On August 10th, with Michael Cuddyer coming off the DL, the Mets had to decide whether to send down Eric Campbell or Michael Conforto. It seemed both would have to be sent down anyway. Most believed that when David Wright came off the DL, the other player would have to be sent down to AAA. 

I thought it should’ve been Conforto for many reasons. Principally, I thought if you’re going to have to send him down anyway, why not do it sooner to let him really work on some things in AAA where he can get more focused attention. In his infinite wisdom, Mark Simon basically said that we should worry about the second move when the time comes:

It turns out he was right. No one should be surprised because he’s a smart guy and a fantastic follow. Anyway, he’s right because things are a little haywire with the Mets right now. 

The bullpen is a mess right now. Logan Verrett was initially called up to take Bobby Parnell‘s spot in the bullpen. In reality, he was called up for one short relief appearance on his throw day and to make a spot start on Sunday so the team can skip Matt Harvey‘s Sunday start. 
With the bullpen being short, the Mets decided they needed to call-up Dario Alvarez. I don’t know much about him. I’m not putting much stock in his performance last year. It was a small sample size. However, he was ranked as the Mets #22 ranked prospect. After a good start in Binghampton, he moved to Las Vegas where he’s been dominant with a 1.08 ERA, a 0.60 WHIP, and 16.20 K/9. This may turn out to be a great decision especially since Alvarez is a LHP. 

Now, the Mets need to make a make room for Alvarez. Throughout the game on Friday, Gary Cohen suggested it would be Conforto. With him having to go down on Monday and the Rockies throwing a LHP on Saturday, meaning Conforto wouldn’t play, it seemed to be the right move. Then, as Mark Simon said, things began to work themselves out.”

First, Bartolo Colon was hit on the wrist and has a large bump there. It was severe enough that it merited getting an x-ray. Luckily, it’s not broken, but Colon said it did affect his pitching. He doesn’t want to have to skip a start, but I’m not ruling it out at this point. At some point, the Mets may need to consider putting him on the DL. 

Speaking of the DL, Lucas Duda had to be pulled from the game with an aggravation of the same back injury. According to Adam Rubin, it may be Duda who winds up on the DL. It should be noted with the Mets not putting Duda on the DL when the problem first arose, they got a PH appearance, two games at DH, and six full innings at 1B. If he was initially placed on the DL, he would’ve been ready to come back on August 28th. Presumably, he would’ve been in better shape and not susceptible to a relapse. Instead, the Mets will get three games from Duda between August 13th and September 6th. Yet again, they’ve botched an injury situation. 

With Duda presumably going to the DL, Conforto gets a reprieve. I wish the Mets would let him bat against lefties. It doesn’t make sense that they don’t, especially when they let Curtis Granderson do it. However, that’s another argument to re-hash at another time. 

Let’s hope Colon and Duda get better. Let’s hope Conforto begins to produce better than his .224/.333/.448 triple slash line. Let’s hope Alvarez is effective. Mostly, let’s hope the Mets start reacting better to player injuries. 

What’s Really Going on with Conforto?

Yesterday, I made two posts detailing why the Mets should call-up Michael Conforto if Michael Cuddyer finally lands on the DL (the posts can be found here and here).  Since these posts were made, the reporting on him has been all over the place (trust me when I say I’m not implying a cause and effect). Here is what the various news outlets have to say about Conforto:

The New York Post reports the Mets are thinking about calling up Conforto. 

The New York Daily News reports the Mets are leaning towards calling up Conforto on Thursday. 

Newsday reports a Conforto call-up is unlikely, but that may change if Cuddyer goes to the DL. 

Similarly, the Star Ledger reports the Mets will consider calling up Conforto if Cuddyer is placed on the DL. 

Adam Rubin reports the Mets the Mets are kicking around the idea of calling up Conforto I’d Cuddyer lands on the DL although “internal dissension remains.”

From my reading of the tea leaves, it appears the Mets are really hoping Cuddyer wakes up one day with a miraculously healed knee. They’re also hoping to add an OF without giving up much in return. Overall, they’re kicking the ball down the road before they are forced to make a tough decision. 

As a Mets fan, I do appreciate they are taking this seriously. The pitching is here. Next year, there will be even more pitching. We just need the hitting. I believe Conforto is ready to contribute (but not necessarily dominate). If the Mets feel differently, that’s fine, but they have to do something here. 

Michael Conforto is not Miguel Cabrera but . . .

Michael Conforto has raked everywhere he has played, whether it was Oregon State University or the minor leagues.  He’s such an advanced prospect that Keith Law predicted before the season Conforto would be ready to be called up by August 2015.  When Keith Law has had a chance to back off a bit, he hasn’t; in fact, he has stated with the current state of the Mets, Conforto is their best option (yes, I linked to him answering my question on Twitter – it’s my blog).  While he acknowledged its a big jump, he did seem to believe Conforto could handle it.  Before dismissing this opinion, remember Keith Law is highly qualified to speak about baseball.

I bring this up because the Mets believe Michael Conforto  lacks minor league experience.  Right now, Conforto has played in 130 games and has had 574 plate appearances.  Specifically, he has played in 42 games with 182 plate appearance at Binghamton.  In Binghamton, the 22 year old Conforto has a triple slash line of .325/.407/.531.  No matter how you slice or dice it, these are great numbers.  These are Herculean when you keep in mind that he would be replacing the combined .169/.236/.344 of Nieuwenhuis and Mayberry.  Drastic times call for drastic actions.  Without a trade on the horizon, calling up Conforto would be the drastic move the Mets need to make.

It reminds me of 2003 when the Florida Marlins won the World Series.  Much like the Mets, the Marlins were mostly talented but not expected to really compete.  However, they fired their manager and replaced him with Jack McKeon.  While Trader Jack was the Marlins manager, one of the moves the Marlins made was to call up Miguel Cabrera.  The reason he was called-up?  The Marlins felt they “a little spark on the offensive side.”  At the time of his call-up, the 19 year old Miguel Cabrera had played in 69 AA games with a triple slash line of .365/.429/.609.  When he was called up, he was the clean-up hitter on the team.

Looking at the above-information, there are a few things you can conclude: (1) the Mets LF situation is dire; (2) Cabrera is better than Conforto; (3) the 2003 Marlins were better than the 2015 Mets; (4) you can call a young player up in a pressure filled situation; and (5) that young player can succeed.  Now, Keith Law never said Conforto was Miguel Cabrera, nor am I.  Seriously, who is?  Cabrera is an offensive machine.  He was so good he hit a HR off of Roger Clemens in the World Series.  The way the Mets offense is playing right now, the Mets won’t even get a chance to make the postseason.

I’m not asking him to be a “savior.”  I just want someone competent. At this point in the season, this shouldn’t even be an issued. Furthermore, the Mets have no one but themselves to blame. They built a roster with no depth. They failed to make a move earlier, even when we all knew it had to be made. Now, they have two choices: (1) roll the dice with Conforto or (2) average 2.83 runs per game and miss the playoffs. 

Lessons of Keith Hernandez’s Career

Keith Hernandez’s baseball career was one struggle after the next. First, it was his early hitting problems leading to a demotion. Then it was his clashes with Whitey Herzog leading to his trade to the Mets. Then it was the Pittsburgh drug trials where he was called to testify. However, despite all of this hardship, Keith Hernandez was the 1979 MVP, has won 11 Gold Gloves, and was part of two World Series Championship teams.

Now, I’m sure Keith Hernandez was devastated when he struggled in the majors and needed to be sent down. Keith does credit Ken Boyer with finally giving him the confidence he needed to succeed in the majors. However, Keith was a special major league talent. Overall, you could argue these early career struggles helped Keith deal with adversity. This was a good thing because he would face real adversity later in his career and he overcame it. So much so, in the eyes of many, Keith was a Hall of Fame caliber player.

I bring this up because one of the reasons the Mets state they do not want to put too much pressure on him and believe it would be devastating if he fails. As Keith Hernandez shows, if you’re a special player, you will have a successful career; no matter how much you struggle on your way there. In fact, you could argue the struggles help make you a better player (just look at Sandy Koufax’s early career). I’m not saying Conforto isn’t the answer. He may very well come up and struggle. With the Mets being where they are, they really can’t afford any more players to struggle offensively. You know what else they can’t afford? More of the same.

If Cuddyer can play, I’ll back off. Despite his struggles, Cuddyer is a major league caliber player, who is less than a season removed from being an effective major league hitter. However, if Cuddyer cannot be more than a PH/DH or he needs to be put on the DL, the Mets should call up Conforto. What’s the worst that could happen? What if he had a triple slash line of .169/.236/.344? Well guess what? That is the combined 2015 triple slash line of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and John Mayberry, Jr.. These are the players that will most likely platoon left field until Cuddyer is healthy or the Mets make a trade.

Therefore, if you are not willing or able to make a trade to improve left field, and Cuddyer isn’t responding to treatment, the Mets have little other choice than to call-up Conforto.



Realistic Immediate Moves

The Mets offense is officially offensive. As I tweeted last night, their runs per game is as follows:

April 4.35 runs per game

May 3.54 runs per game

June 2.96 runs per game

July 2.87 runs per game. 

This is unsustainable and had led to a -16 run differential. Things need to be fixed quickly to reverse these trends or the Mets run the risk of letting the season get away. For the purposes of this post, I’ll take the front office at face value and assume a trade can’t be competed just yet. Also, I’m not going to waste my breath here about bringing Conforto up to the majors (that’s for another time). The front office has made it clear he’s not getting called up. However, that does not mean something can’t be done now. 

First: Transfer Wright to the 60 day disabled list. He’s been gone for 60 days already. Not putting him on the 60 day DL is roster mismanagement. Once Wright is put on the 60 day DL, the Mets can call up someone not in the 40 man roster. 

Second: Call up Matt Reynolds (he’s not on the 40 man roster) and install him as the everyday SS. Let’s face it – since the day the Mets refused to resign Reyes, Tejada had been given several chances to become the everyday SS and failed. In this latest attempt, he had a triple slash line of .255/.322/.360 and a UZR of 0.8, i.e. he is bad at the plate and average in the field. CORRECTION: after posting this I learned Matt Reynolds is on the 7 day DL

Reynolds had a triple slash line of .270/.327/.410. I wasn’t able to find his UZR information, but scouts seem optimistic on his defense. If Reynolds minor league stats carry over, the Mets improve the SS position and the bench. If they don’t translate (the PCL is a hitter’s league after all), he had a cup of coffee. It’s not like his production would be so bad as to justify carrying Eric Campbell on the roster (side note: I’m sorry because Campbell works hard and really tries to help the team).  I know Reynolds isn’t on the 40 man roster, but so what?  Are you really afraid of losing 

Third: Outright Alex Torres and recall Logan Verrett. This would leave the Mets with only one lefty in the pen, Sean Gilmartin, who is not a LOOGY. However, Torres isn’t effective against lefties. Lately, he hadn’t been effective at all. In a small sample size, Verrett has been largely effective for the Mets. 

Fourth: Recall Dilson Herrera, bench Wilmer Flores, and release John Mayberry, Jr. In his last 10 games, Herrera is hitting .359 with a .390 OBP. He’s hot. Flores has been bad defensively and at the plate. However, he does have some pop in his bat and could be an effective PH. To make room for Herrera, Mayberry should be released. He just hasn’t hit. He’s taking up a valuable roster spot right now. 

Fifth: Call up Travis Taijeron and send down Danny Muno. I know I joked yesterday about Taijeron and the Mets need for more minor leaguers. However, this post is seeking drastic measures to help this team, which is best done by eliminating most of the bench. This season Taijeron’s triple slash is an eye opening .271/.395/.523. Why hasn’t he been called up?  Well he is not a highly thought of prospect having been drafted in the 11th round in 2011. Why send down Muno?  He’s bad at baseball. Travis Taijeron is not in the 40 man roster, but I am comfortable exposing Wilfredo Tovar to waivers. 

With all the machinations, the Mets have mostly retooled their bench (except Nieuwenhuis and Recker) and they find out what they have in Reynolds and Taijeron. Also, it creates a spot for with Nimmo or Conforto in AAA and possibly Gavin Cecchini as well. Maybe I’m wrong, but at least this is something.