This is not meant to be critical of players or their patriotism. It isn’t. Players, especially pitchers, have a certain shelf life, and no one should tell them to risk everything for a one month international competition. Perhaps Noah Syndergaard put it best when he said, “I’m a Met. Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or the World Series playing in the WBC.” (Abby Mastrocco, nj.com).
If you go down the line, you will probably hear similar responses from the other players that did not play. The problem is most of them are American.
The reigning Cy Young Award winners are Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. Neither are pitching, but to be fair Scherzer was slated to pitch before he suffered an injury. The runner-ups were Jon Lester in the NL and Justin Verlander in the AL. They aren’t pitching either. Third place? Kyle Hendricks and Corey Kluber respectively. The two pitchers who started Game 7 of the 2016 World Series aren’t on the USA roster. Dig deeper. The best pitcher in baseball right now is Clayton Kershaw. He’s not on the roster. The best clutch pitcher in all of baseball right now, if not all time, is Madison Bumgarner. He’s not on the roster.
This speaks to the absolute depth of the starting pitching among Team USA. Arguably, the crop of starting pitchers on the USA roster right now is their 7th best option. Maybe even worse. And yet, they pitched brilliantly. Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, and Danny Duffy went out there and pitched as good as or better than any of the aforementioned pitchers would have pitched in that spot.
But then comes the bullpen. As loaded as the USA is in the rotation, they should be just as loaded in the bullpen. Zach Britton is coming off a historically great season, but much like the AL Wild Card Game, you are not going to see him pitching against a foreign opponent. Addison Reed, a pitcher coming off a season with a 1.97 ERA isn’t on the roster. It could be argued Wade Davis is the best closer in all of baseball, and yet, he isn’t on the roster. The closest USA comes to having a terrific closer on the roster is Mark Melancon, who is on the provisional roster.
I kept thinking about all the aforementioned pitchers while Tanner Roark, a pitcher who wouldn’t make a squad of the best American born pitcher in the National League East, was getting tattooed by the Dominican Republic. Oddly enough, it was the one pitcher for USA you trusted the most, Andrew Miller, the one who definitively belonged on the roster, was the one that ultimately blew the save.
Sure, you could have hoped USA scored more runs after jumping out to a 5-0 lead. You could argue that the best young players in the game Mike Trout and Bryce Harper went to Spring Training instead of competing in this event. You also wonder how much of an impact USA not bringing their best players had an impact on American born Manny Machado playing for the Dominican Republic. You wondered a little more as he hit a Tanner Roark ball nearly out of the gigantic Marlins Park.
Personally, I was wondering what the heck Jim Leyland was doing with his lineup. Two of the better hitters on the team, Andrew McCutchen and Daniel Murphy, were stapled to the bench while Eric Hosmer was batting fifth. Mind you, Hosmer could very well be the worst hitter in that lineup. He’s certainly the bottom two or three on the roster. These are the things that happen when you name Leyland manager instead of giving the chance to Willie Randolph, a man who has had success at the major league level and in international play.
Seriously, aside from Buster Posey and perhaps Nolan Arenado and Ian Kinsler, you could argue the best USA players and coaching staff stayed home. This is why USA has not won a WBC to date, let alone appear in a final. And yet, in some strange way, it speaks about how much better USA is than the world in baseball.
In Olympic basketball, USA brings its best players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and yet, the team has to sweat it out to win Olympic Gold. In hockey, Canada is absolutely stocked top to bottom. Arguably, the team it leaves home would win Olympic Gold, and yet each Olympics teams constantly push Canada. In the WBC, USA isn’t sending near its best, and they are having to play tougher games than expected.
Teams like Colombia try to keep their hopes alive with a gutsy performance from Nabil Crismatt. Puerto Rico’s ace is Seth Lugo, a pitcher who can’t even find his way onto an All-American Mets starting rotation. Israel has transformed Josh Zeid, a pitcher the Mets would not re-sign to a minor league deal, into their version of Andrew Miller.
USA may not have their best, but they have players like Adam Jones who well up with pride putting on the uniform and representing their county. This is a roster full of players that are easy to root for and are good enough to win the WBC. As an American and as a baseball fan, I’m happy these players chose to play, and they deserve to win it all because even though they might not be the best American players, they are the best team in the WBC.
On Tuesday, the Northeast is supposed to be slammed with a Northeaster. This means that every old lady in your neighborhood is going to be running to the grocery store to stock up on the three staples of milk, bread, and eggs. If you have a child, you will also need to run to the grocery store to get milk. I do not want to know what would happen around here if we ever ran out of milk.
However, my shopping list isn’t done. With the promise of a lot of snow coming, there is the potential that there will be enough snow to build a snowman. Now, you could go the Frosty route and try to get away with a button nose, but you’re not going to see that button, nor are you ever going to find that button again. No, instead, you are better off going the Olaf route and getting carrots for the snowmen.
I doubt there will be coal in your local supermarket this time of year. Hopefully, you can use a couple of rocks and jam them in there. If you want, color them with a black Sharpie so they stand out. In fact, you can use a colored Sharpie if you want. Ask your child what color they want the snowman’s eyes to be. They can be blue, brown, or green like your child, or just the traditional black.
And with that, you should have enough stuff to build a snowman in your own backyard. Hopefully, the snow sticks well enough to build a snowman instead of having to pile snow up to make some sort of snowman like creature.
If you’re ambitious, you can make a quick and easy chicken soup with your child in the slow cooker. Pre-cut the remaining carrots with some celery and onions. Get a roaster while you are at the grocery store and tear up the chicken. Allow your child to combine the ingredients with broth or stock into the slow cooker. Add some salt and pepper, and you can then let it run while you are outside playing with your kid in the snow. When you come back in the house, you can have a quick and easy chicken soup. It may not be the greatest, but at least it is hot, and it’ll be easier to get your child to eat it because he made it.
By the way, while you are out there shopping this weekend, make sure you get a sled if you don’t have one already.
When Tim Tebow took the batter’s box against reigning American League Cy Young Award Winner Rick Porcello, we could all guess what was going to happen. Tebow struck out, and he didn’t look particularly good doing it. In fact, Tebow didn’t look particularly good in any aspect of the game on Wednesday. Overall, Tebow was 0-3 with a hit by pitch, two strikeouts, and a GIDP. The only time he got on base via the hit by pitch, he was doubled off of first.
Simply put, Tebow did not look like he belonged out there.
Most Single A players don’t look like they belong out there either. That is traditionally why most players in the lower levels of the minor leagues do not play until towards the end of the Spring Training games. If you put a lower level minors player out there against the Porcellos of the world, they are most likely going to look bad up there. Heck, major leaguers look bad at the plate against Porcello. That’s partially why Porcello won the Cy Young Award.
However, with Tebow it’s different. It’s different because of the attention. Seriously, who gets a round of applause after they hit into a double play? It’s different because Tebow has always been a lightning rod. It’s different because Tebow decided to play baseball after not having played the sport in over a decade and after it was made clear his football career was over. As Terry Collins said, “What he’s attempting to do, not a lot of guys would even try.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).
It’s different because some people believe Tebow is taking someone else’s spot.
That last one simply isn’t true. Minor league systems are full of “organizational guys” who are signed so each team can have enough guys to fill out a roster. In terms of this Spring, Tebow wasn’t even the first prospect to get into a game. David Thompson, Blake Tiberi, Luis Carpio, Kevin Kaczmarski, Luis Guillorme, Patrick Biondi, Wuilmer Becerra, Peter Alonso, Arnaldo Berrios, Gene Cone, John Mora, Colby Woodmansee, and Ricardo Cespedes are all Single A players who got into Spring Training games this year before Tebow. Overall, Tebow’s presence has not prevented anyone from getting into a game that the Mets deem worthy of getting into a game. Guess what? There is no way the Mets are going to let Tebow get in the way of another more deserving prospect. The Mets aren’t dumb.
For one day, Tebow went out there, and he didn’t look good. He looked all the bit of the 29 year old player who hasn’t played a full season of baseball in over 10 years. He looked outmatched, and he looked like he lacked the requisite instincts to play the game. That’s a good thing. Baseball is hard. As the late great Jimmy Dugan once said, “The hard… is what makes it great.”
In reality, the only way Tebow could have made a mockery of baseball was if he went out there and went 3-3 with a couple of extra base hits. Instead, the man struggled like he was supposed to struggle. Now, like many who have struggled, it is incumbent upon him to dust him off and get better. Tebow knows this better than anyone saying, “”There are a lot of things I have to play catch-up on. It’s just, how fast can I catch up?”
If Tebow is willing to put in the work, he just might be able to catch up. If he does catch up, he moves away from being a sideshow the Mets are profiting from to being a minor leaguer who is looking for his next call-up.
Last year, we saw players like Seth Lugo graduate from prospect status as he played enough innings to no longer qualify as a rookie. If he qualified, he would have been highly ranked on the Mets top prospect list heading into this season. Do you know who the top 25 prospects are in the Mets farm system right now? Good luck!
Nabil Crismatt Harol Gonzalez David Thompson P.J. Conlon Ricardo Cespedes Josh Smoker Chris Flexen Gregory Guerrero Merandy Gonzalez Luis Carpio T.J. Rivera Ali Sanchez Marcos Molina Peter Alonso Wuilmer Becerra Tomas Nido Andres Gimenez Brandon Nimmo Gavin Cecchini Justin Dunn Desmond Lindsay Thomas Szapucki Robert Gsellman Dominic Smith Amed Rosario Gabriel Ynoa
Last year, we saw Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and T.J. Rivera become significant contributors to a Mets team who claimed one of the two National League Wild Cards. Their contribution was as pleasant as it was surprising. In fact, no one truly could have predicated the slate of injuries that befell the Mets last year. This year? Well, that’s a different story all together.
With David Wright already questionable for Opening Day, and the Mets prospects performing better in Spring Training than many originally anticipated, many fans question not if, but when will we see these prospects contributing for the Mets. With that in mind, here are five prospects, who have yet to appear in a major league game, we may very well see at Citi Field in 2017.
Once Akeel Morris was traded to the Braves for Kelly Johnson, Roseboom became the closer for the Binghamton Mets last season. Roseboom blossomed in the role and made it an eight inning game for the B-Mets. He saved 14 out of 15 games while posting a 1.87 ERA in 52 games on the year. From July 2 to the last regular season game on September 5, Roseboom held opponents to a .130/.193/.383 slash line, and a 0.92 ERA. This work has caught the Mets attention, and he was a non-roster invitee giving the Mets coaching staff an opportunity to get an up close look at him.
At a minimum, he could very well be the second left-handed reliever the Mets covet in the bullpen. With the struggles we have seen from Josh Edgin this Spring, that could be sooner rather than later.
#2 Paul Sewald
What is interesting about Sewald is his terrific results have not gotten him the attention he deserves. Seemingly every pitcher struggles in Las Vegas, and yet in the second half, Sewald converted 10 save opportunities while posting a 1.85 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. While naysayers will point to his high 80s to low 90s fastball, Sewald has clearly shown the ability to get batters out even in the most difficult of pitching environments. As teams go through multiple relievers year-t0-year, it may only be a matter of time before Sewald finally gets his well earned chance to pitch in the majors.
This Spring, we have already seen Wright become questionable for Opening Day, and Lucas Duda need shots in his hip and have back spasms. For a Mets infield that already had injury questions to start the season, things are already progressing quite poorly. The Mets have talked about experimenting with Jay Bruce at first. Wilmer Flores has already shown he can be part of an effective platoon there as well. Neither player is the long term answer. That’s Smith.
Smith is a terrific fielding first baseman who reported to his first major league camp in the best shape of his professional career. So far, the only concern about him is if he will hit for power. He quieted some of those concerns in the final 58 games of the season. During that 58 game stretch, Smith hit .355/.426/.537 with 16 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 42 RBI. Extrapolating that over the course of a 162 game season, that would translate to 45 doubles and 20 home runs. That type of production can definitely play at first base especially when Smith has the promise to do even more.
#4 Amed Rosario
Across baseball and the Mets organization, Rosario has been dubbed a superstar in the making. The only question is when his star will begin shining at Citi Field. Arguably, he is further away from Citi Field than Smith as Smith played a full season in Binghamton last year. Moreover, you probably want to give both players until the All Star Break before you even begin to consider calling them up to the majors. And yet, as Michael Conforto proved in 2015, if you are a truly special talent, you can come to the majors and contribute for a World Series caliber team in the thick of a pennant race.
In Rosario, the Mets have a game changer in the field and at the plate. Should any infielder go down, room can be made for Rosario. Certainly, Asdrubal Cabrera has shown in his career he can play second and third. Also, do not discount the Mets trying to play Rosario at third this season so he can become more versatile, and quite possibly open a spot for him on the major league roster this year.
#5 Chris Flexen
Arguably, this spot could go to P.J. Conlon, but Flexen is on the 40 man roster. Also, Flexen pitched a full season for St. Lucie last year, whereas Conlon only pitched half a season there. Another issue is Flexen’s stuff plays better in the bullpen as Flexen has a mid-90s fastball and a plus curve ball. If the Mets were to be willing to move Flexen to the bullpen, he can rocket through the Mets system.
In addition to Conlon, another name to consider is Corey Taylor. He’s got terrific stuff, and the minor league closer is already drawing Jeurys Familia comparisons. Overall, the Mets farm system has plenty of players who should be able to contribute at the major league level at some point next year. It should give you some hope the Mets should be good in 2017 even if there is a rash of injuries. It should give you more hope that the Mets should be good in years to come.
Editor’s Note: I consulted Michael Mayer while making my list, and he pointed out to me he wrote a similar column for Mets Merized Online. His list is slightly different as he includes Champ Stuart. As Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people on the Mets farm system, please give his article a read as well.
Looking over the Mets infield, there are two things that squarely stand-out. The first is that this is an aging group of players coming off significant injuries. The second is this infield is not a particularly good defensive infield.
John Dewan of Acta Sports, and Fielding Bible fame, projected the Mets to have the worst defense up the middle in 2017. The projection calls for Neil Walker to be a -1 DRS next season, which is what he has averaged over the past three seasons. Asdrubal Cabrera is projected to post a -9 DRS, which is worse than the -7 DRS he has averaged over the past two seasons. While you would certainly want both Walker’s and Cabrera’s bats in the game, certainly, the Mets would benefit by having a better glove in the game when there is a lead late in the game.
That is exactly what the Mets have done with Juan Lagares. After the team acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 trade deadline, Lagares has served as a defensive replacement late in games. The Mets doing this has served two important purposes. First, it has helped the Mets preserve leads by putting their best defense on the field. Second, it helps save some innings, and by extent wear and tear, on players like Cespedes and Curtis Granderson. It is a large reason why the Mets will be returning Lagares to the same role in 2017.
It is something the Mets should consider for their infield. The issue is the Mets do not have the bench to do it.
Jose Reyes has averaged a -9 DRS at shortstop over the past three years, which would indicate he’s a downgrade from Cabrera. Wilmer Flores had a -10 DRS as the starting shortstop in 2015, and he has a -6 DRS as a second baseman in 576.0 major league innings. The other options being considered for the bench, T.J. Rivera and Ty Kelly, are hardly terrific defenders in their own right. Certainly, you are not taking the steady handed Walker and Cabrera off the field for them.
No, the only good defensive player who is a realistic option to make the Opening Day roster is Matt Reynolds.
Reynolds is not a gold glover in the middle infield. However, he does have the same steady hands Walker and Cabrera have while having better range at the position. He certainly has the arm to play second, short, and third. That also makes him an option to take some innings away from David Wright at third. Overall, Reynolds is most likely the best defensive infielder the Mets not named Amed Rosario. The fact that he is also capable of serving as the team’s fifth outfielder makes him an all the more enticing roster option.
What is going to hurt his chances of making the team is his bat. He hit .225/.266/.416 in 47 games with the Mets last year. He has played 254 games in the hitter’s haven that is the Pacific Coast League, Reynolds has only hit .284/.342/.411. Overall, he’s not a great hitter. It’s quite possible that even with him putting in extra time with Kevin Long he will never develop into a good hitter.
But the Mets don’t need hitters. They have plenty of them on this team. What they need are good defenders. With Lagares, they have that in the outfield. With Reynolds, they would have that in the infield as well.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online
After last season, Mets fans became aware of who Gavin Cecchini, Ty Kelly, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and T.J. Rivera were. While we may have been aware of who they were, Mets fans got to see Rene Rivera and Fernando Salas up close and personal for the first time. Naturally, you are well aware of who Jeurys Familia and Jose Reyes are. Still, there are some other Mets participating in this edition of the World Baseball Classic that most Mets fans are going to see for the first time. Here’s a a look at those players and what we may expect to see
2016 Level: Binghamton & Las Vegas
2016 Stats: 85 G, 327 PA, 290 AB, 28 R, 79 H, 14 2B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, CS, .272/.347/.362
The 27 year old Carrillo is a catcher’s catcher. He is a good receiver behind the plate, and he has a good, not great, throwing arm that allows him to control the running game. For his defensive skills, he was recently given a Gold Glove in the Mexican Pacific Winter Leagues.
At the plate, Carrillo shows a good eye at the plate, but not much pop. While you can argue his glove is major league ready, his bat probably isn’t. Still, Carrillo is a hard worker that has shown the willingness to do whatever is necessary to improve his game. Considering Mets fans once saw the likes of Mike Nickeas serve as a back-up catcher at the major league level, it is not impossible that Carrillo could one day get a chance in the major leagues.
RHP Nabil Crismatt
2016 Level: Brooklyn, Columbia, Binghamton
2016 Stats: 1-4, 2.47 ERA, 13 G, 7 GS, SV, 65.2 IP, 74 K, 0.883 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
The 22 year old Crismatt has been an interesting pitching prospect since the Mets signed him as a non-drafted free agent out of Columbia in 2011. Crismatt has never had dominating stuff with his fastball typically sitting between the high 80s to the low 90s. With that said, he’s able to get batters out because he knows how to pitch. He has clean, easily repeatable mechanics. While he does not have a blazing fastball, he is able to locate the pitch well. He gets the most out of his fastball because he has a terrific change-up. He gets the most out of both pitches because he knows how to attack hitters to not only get a high number of strike outs, but also get a good number of ground balls.
The Mets did not protect Crismatt from the Rule 5 Draft last year, and he wasn’t selected. The Mets may not be so lucky the next time around. Crismatt has shown he can thrive as a starter and as a reliever. At the moment, he projects as a major league reliever. With that said if he can develop a third pitch to be on the level of his fastball and change-up, he may very well be able to thrive in a major league rotation.
Certainly, aside from these prospects, I’m sure the player most Mets fans have the most interest in seeing play during the World Baseball Classic is Yoenis Cespedes‘ 19 year old brother Yoelkis. Unsurprisingly, Yoelkis has been dubbed a five tool player.
Seemingly each and every year there is one player who takes advantage of his opportunity to impress his club in Spring Training. The classic examples for Mets fans are Butch Huskey and Benny Agbayani. This year it seems as if that honor is going to Phillip Evans, who has looked like Mike Schmidt during Spring Training.
So far this Spring, he has made a number of highlight plays at third base. In five games this Spring, he has hit two home runs. This is causing fans to take notice of Evans and wonder who he is.
Evans was the Mets 2011 15th Round Draft Pick out of La Costa Canyone High School in Carlsbad, CA. While the round he was drafted would suggest Evans wasn’t a highly thought of prospect, the signing bonus would differ. Evans received a $650,000 signing bonus which was the equivalent of either supplemental first round or second round money. Evans draft stock had dropped mostly because Evans had committed to play for San Diego State, which was in the backyard of his hometown.
This is now Evans’ seventh year in the Mets organization. For much of the first five, it was an uneasy development process. Up until last season, Evans was just a .236/.304/.310 hitter. While he was drafted as a shortstop, the 5’9″ Evans would no longer be a shortstop in the Mets farm system by 2015. Certainly, entering the 2016 season, you could argue his star had diminished.
Evans turned things around in 2016. In 96 games for the Binghamton Mets, he hit .335/.374/.485 en route to winning the Eastern League batting title. He did that while playing well defensively at both second and third base. He also managed to play a respectable shortstop in his limited opportunities there as well.
Typically, when you are coming off a promising season like that, you get protected in the Rule 5 Draft. Unfortunately for Evans, he is in a Mets farm system stacked with middle infield prospects, and some of those prospects, like Amed Rosario, needed to be added to the 40 man roster. This caused many to speculate Evans would be taken by another team in the Rule 5 Draft.
Somewhat surprisingly, Evans wasn’t.
According to Mets Minors, Evans is the 31st best prospect in the Mets farm system. While some believe in his bat, others point to his extraordinarily high .384 BABIP, his low 4.9% walk rate, his general lack of power, and his propensity to pull the ball. However, if Evans is able to replicate his 2016 season, and he continues to build off his success from Spring Training, he will start turning some of those doubters into believers. Time will tell.
For now, Evans is getting noticed in Spring Training, and that can only help his prospects of making it to the major leagues.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online
When I think back to my youth, I fondly remember shows like He-Man and Thundercats. As a father, I wish my son could enjoy these shows like I once did. Once my son began watching shows like Paw Patrol, I really wanted my son to begin watching shows like He-Man and Thundercats.
With He-Man on Netflix, it is certainly possible for him to do so. And yet, I don’t sit down and watch He-Man with him because that was my show growing up. Paw Patrol is his. When he goes and he plays with his friends, they all want to do play and talk about Paw Patrol. The other kids don’t know He-Man, and I don’t want to make my son the outsider of the group. So, with that, I eschew He-Man in favor of Paw Patrol. It’s not pleasant.
Recently, I discovered there may be some middle ground for my son and I. Growing up, I also watched DuckTales. It was a great cartoon, and perhaps an even better video game. To this day, I remember every line to the DuckTales theme song. Who doesn’t? It was catchy.
The diving into the money pit and the whole ordeal. It was great. It is a show I would love to share with my son. That goes double with him loving Mickey’s Christmas Carol as much as I did. At this point, my son knows all of those Disney characters, and I think he would love DuckTales. Again, the problem is his friends don’t watch.
But maybe they will start this summer as apparently Disney is relaunching DuckTales. Naturally, it isn’t going to have any of the original voices, but that’s not a big issue. What’s important is they are going to relaunch DuckTales. There’s a trailer for it and everything now:
So yeah, about that.
Maybe I’m just being a bit too nostalgic, and maybe I’m being too much of an old man. But man, that doesn’t look great. It certainly doesn’t look anywhere near as good as the original. And yet, I think I’d rather watch this than Paw Patrol again, and again, and again. So, in that sense, beggar’s can’t be choosers.
Still, I wish this looked better. Here’s hoping it’s a giant success and not the equivalent of the remake of The Longest Yard.
So, in case you missed it yesterday, and I am not sure how you did, Mets shorstop prospect Luis Guillorme did this:
The man didn’t even flinch. Everyone is scurrying for shelter, and he just calmly and coolly grabs Adeiny Hechavarria‘s bat . . . MIDFLIGHT . . . and just tosses it back to him. This certainly is going to be replayed over and over again. It is almost definitely going to be the defensive play of the year. It could also be the beginning of his own legend.
For those that follow the Mets minor leagues, Guillorme is considered to be a better defensive prospect than Amed Rosario, which is saying something as Rosario is seen as a potential Gold Glover at short. If Guillorme ever develops as a hitter the way Rosario did over the past season, the Mets could have just an insanely good defensive infield in a few years. Where Guillorme and Rosario would play if that ever occurred is an interesting question.
However, for right now, the question is whether this was a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger caliber play.
Speaking of Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers, Yoenis Cespedes did this after Guillorme making everyone forget about the Guillorme play:
Check back in a few hours when this ball actually lands pic.twitter.com/tMDtAc6ceV
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) March 2, 2017