Amed Rosario

Debunking The Rosario Excuses

Fact is, the Mets season is on the brink.  They need to upgrade anywhere they can in order to help get the Mets season back on track.  For many, that starts with calling up Amed Rosario.  In response, many have offered excuses as to why the Mets shouldn’t call-up Rosario.  In reality, they are flimsy excuses.  Let’s go through them one-by-one:

EXCUSE #1: The Pitching Is the Problem and Rosario Doesn’t Pitch

Yes, the Mets and their MLB worst ERA is a big problem, and no, Rosario doesn’t pitch.  However, the Mets right now are playing Jose Reyes and his .189/.269/.310 batting line at shortstop.  Assuming the pitching doesn’t get any better, the Mets are going to have to out-slug teams to win games.  Reyes is not going to help that.

Also, the Mets defense at short has been terrible.  They rank dead last with a -9 DRS.  Better defense at an important defensive position like shortstop will only serve to help a pitching staff.  Take Robert Gsellman for example.  He has a 58% ground ball rate, and he is allowing a .368 BABIP.  With a better shortstop, especially one like Rosario who projects to be a very good defender, that BABIP can go down.  That is the result of Rosario being able to get to more balls and the rest of the infield being better positioned as a result.  That could result in a lower BABIP, which means base hits becomes outs.  Rallies thereby end sooner or don’t begin in the first place.  Gsellman can then go deeper into games and take pressure off the bullpen.

EXCUSE #2 You Don’t Want Rosario Up On a Short-Term Basis

Who says is has to be on a short-term basis?  Even assuming Asdrubal Cabrera is ready to come back at the end of his 10 day disabled list stint, why couldn’t Rosario stay in the major leagues?  You have the option to move Rosario to third base if you so choose.  You also have the option of moving Cabrera and his poor range to third base.  If Rosario comes up, and he’s shown he can play well defensively and hit well, he has shown he belongs to play at the major league level.  If that is the case, keep him up.

EXCUSE #3 He Doesn’t Have Enough Triple-A At-Bats

There is no precise formula detailing how many at-bats are needed in Triple-A.  Miguel Cabrera never played in Triple-A before his call-up, and he is well on his way to the Hall of Fame.  Matt Reynolds has 1,145 at-bats in Triple-A, and he is still not ready to consistently hit major league pitching.  There is no tried and true formula to follow.  Rosario has shown he can hit in Triple-A.  You either believe in him, or you don’t.

Excuse #4 You Don’t Want Him to Struggle and Be Sent Down

Why?  Keith Hernandez struggled as a 21 year old, and he was sent down.  After that, Hernandez won an MVP, 11 Gold Gloves, and two World Series titles.  After jumping on the scene in 2015, Michael Conforto had a nightmare of a 2016.  So far this year, he is hitting .327/.413/.654 with nine homers and 24 RBI.  Overall, if you are going to be great at the major league level like many believe Rosario will be, one set-back is not going to prevent you from fulfilling your potential.

EXCUSE #5 You Don’t Want to Bring Him Up into a Losing Situation

The corollary of this is you don’t want to bring up a prospect expecting him to be a savior.  In 1983, the Mets were nine games under .500 when Darryl Strawberry was called-up to the majors.  In 2003, the Mets were seven games under .500 when Reyes was called-up.  In 2004, the Mets were one game under .500 when David Wright was called-up to the majors.

Each of these players were immensely talented, and they have each had successful careers.  Being called-up into a losing situation or being asked to be a savior didn’t prevent them from being terrific players.

EXCUSE #6 He’s Had Too Many Errors This Year

Reyes and Cabrera have combined to post a -9 DRS, which again, is the worst in the majors.  Looking at how the team was built top to bottom, defense has been not incentivized.  Now all of a sudden, the Mets are going to care about defense when it comes to a player with plus range for the position?  Further, if he’s struggling, get him away from the terrible infield at Cashman Field, and get him some major league coaching.  You’re likely going to see a better defender out there.

EXCUSE #7 Calling Him Up Sends a Signal the Team is Panicking

Shouldn’t the Mets be panicking at this point?  The team has the worst ERA in baseball.  Their ace and closer are likely gone for the season.  They are already nine games behind the Nationals.  By all means, the Mets should be panicking.  Even if they aren’t panicking, they should be concerned.  The best way to address this would be to address the concerns the team has.  One of those concerns is the offensive and defensive production they get from shortstop.  Rosario can alleviate those concerns.

EXCUSE #8 He’s Not Ready to Hit Major League Pitching

On this front, you have to defer to the front office.  Despite Rosario’s terrific Triple-A numbers, we don’t really have a breakdown on his ability to hit a fastball or breaking pitches.  They can justifiably be seeing something we don’t see.  Still, the team is willing to go with Reyes, his poor defense, and his .189 batting average at the position.  Even if Rosario were to put up similar offensive numbers to Reyes, he’s going to do that with much better defense.  As a result, the Mets would be a better team with him on the field.  Furthermore, it should be noted that if he needs to make some improvements at the plate, he would be better served by working with Kevin Long.  \n

EXCUSE #9 What Do You Do With Him When Cabrera Returns?

Thumb issues like this are tricky.  We saw Juan Lagares try to play through a torn ligament in his thumb until he was finally forced to have surgery to repair the tear.  We still do not know if Cabrera needs surgery.  We don’t know if this is a two week or two month injury.

Assume for a minute Cabrera will be back sooner rather than later, the Mets have an opportunity to give Rosario a brief look at shortstop.  At the very least, it’s a reward for him being the time in to become an improved player.  It presents an opportunity to see if Rosario is ready.  When and if Cabrera comes back, the Mets can then judge if Rosario should stay up with the team or go back down to Triple-A.  If he were to go back down, he will have a better idea of what he needs to work on in order to stick at the major league level.

EXCUSE #10 You Don’t Want to Have Rosario Become a Super Two Player

So what?  Now the Mets aren’t all-in?  Did that only apply to signing Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas?  If you are all-in, be all-in regardless of Super Two deadlines.

Overall, that’s the point.  If you are truly all-in, you do everything you can do to improve your team.  You do everything you can do to win games.  Every day the Mets keep Rosario in Vegas is another day this team is not all-in.  Rather, the team is letting everyone know they would rather lose with what they have this year.

Enough of This – Call Up Rosario

The Mets are a team with a number of issues right now.  The pitching staff as a whole has the worst ERA in all of baseball.  The starters haven’t been going deep into games, and the bullpen is just now starting to crack.  While the position players are hitting, the team defense is unacceptably poor.  While there may not be any causation, there is certainly a correlation between the Mets poor pitching, and their poor defense.

With Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia going down, it is hard to believe the pitching staff is going to get any better.  Right now, the Mets can pin their hopes on Steven Matz and Seth Lugo, but who knows when they can come back?  And when Matz comes back, how long is he going to be healthy?  Same goes for Lugo who has a torn UCL in his pitching elbow.  With the Mets unlikely to significantly upgrade the pitching staff in any way, the team is going to have to upgrade their defense.

There are some minor tweaks that can be made.  Juan Lagares can start in center field over Curtis Granderson.  Typically, you do not want to start Lagares due to his offense, but with Granderson hitting .144/.206/.272 on the season, it’s hard to argue Lagares can be any worse.  Unfortunately, a switch from Granderson to Lagares is likely insufficient to address the defensive issues.  That goes double with the Mets statistically having the worst middle infield in the major leagues.

Right now, the easiest position to upgrade is shortstop.  Asdrubal Cabrera has a torn ligament in his thumb leading the Mets to consider putting him on the disabled list.  In addition to his thumb, we have also seen Cabrera struggle for the second straight year with some leg issues.  If he were to go on the disabled list, the natural option to replace him would be Jose Reyes.

For his part, Reyes just isn’t hitting.  For the season, Reyes is hitting .189/.286/.315.  Those numbers have been boosted by his numbers in May.  In May, he is hitting .220/.283/.341.  As a result of his poor hitting, Reyes is eminently replaceable.  In fact, he has been replaced.  When Lucas Duda returned from the disabled list on Friday, Reyes moved to the bench, and T.J. Rivera was moved to third base.

Overall, the Mets need a shortstop.  As it so happens, they have on in Triple-A with Amed Rosario.

Depending on whichever source you rely, Rosario is either a top 10 prospect or the best prospect in all of baseball.  One of the main reasons for this is he is succeeding in Triple-A.  Through his first 36 games, Rosario is hitting .359/.401/.493 with 11 doubles, a triple, two homes, and 22 RBI.  This isn’t even him padding his numbers at Cashman Field.  In fact, he has hit better on the road.

Now, Rosario has cooled off in May hitting .283/.339/.472.  However, if those numbers are indicative of what a slump looks like for Rosario now, that’s extremely encouraging.  Even with a potential regression if he were to be called up to the major leagues right now, Rosario’s offense would certainly play in the majors.  One of the reasons why is Rosario is a good defender.

Look past his nine errors this season.  This is a player widely regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in baseball.  Overall, it is his defense that is needed right now.  His range at shortstop is far and above what either Cabrera or Reyes can provide at the moment.  Those ground ball hits pitchers give up could be turned into outs.  If those hits become outs, rallies end, or maybe rallies don’t start in the first place.  The starting pitchers now have to throw less pitches, and they could go deeper into games.  In turn, this could take some of the burden off of the bullpen.

Is this an oversimplification?  Perhaps.  But there is no denying the Mets need a better glove at shortstop.  A shortstop with more range would permit help abate the range issues Neil Walker has at second and Rivera has at third.  Even if this all is an oversimplification, it’s at least worth a shot.

Right now, the Mets are not really going anywhere as currently constituted.  There are few areas in which the team can look to upgrade internally.  With Cabrera’s injuries and Reyes’ ineffectiveness, shortstop is one of those areas.  If the Mets are serious about winning in 2017, now is the time to call-up Rosario.

Getting To Know The Prospects Before They Become Major Leaguers: Luis Guillorme

There are moments when a player introduces himself to the world. For Luis Guillorme, it happened this Spring Training when he did something most people have never seen before at a baseball game:

This play right here showed everyone why Guillorme is THE BEST defensive player in the Mets organization. Yes, better than famed Mets prospect Amed Rosario, who is a future Gold Glover at the position. Guillorme is calm, cool, and collected. He has great hands, reflexes, and an awareness of what is going on around him. He has been working on these traits his entire life.

According to Guillorme’s father, Luis, Sr., his son’s favorite player growing up was fellow Venezuelan Omar Vizquel. For those that don’t remember, Vizquel was widely considered the best shortstop of his generation. His 11 Gold Gloves are the second most all-time at the shortstop position. If you wanted to be a good defensive shortstop, this was the guy you wanted to watch play. Guillorme did more than that.

According to Guillorme’s father, Luis, “repeated the motions (Vizquel’s) time and time again until he was able to do it perfectly. That was the easy to manage, the most difficult part was tolerating the sound of the baseball hitting the walls, inside our house hundreds of times on a daily basis, because in our neighborhood it wasn’t safe for him to play out on the street. He was always practicing and playing inside the house.

Every single day he spent hours throwing baseballs, tennis balls or rubber balls against the wall and then trying to catch them before they touched the floor or before they passed him. He has always been full of energy, sending him to bed was a titanic duty, and sometimes it still is [laughs]. I think his reflexes and quickness escalated to a higher level by doing that. It is funny now, but sometimes it was exhausting.”

Now, the Guillormes moved from Venezuela to Florida, and he attended Coral Springs Charter High School. It was there that the Mets saw how his incredible work ethic and passion for the game of baseball translated on the baseball field. He was widely believed to be the best defensive shortstop in the 2013 draft, and the Mets grabbed him with their 10th round selection.

During Guillorme’s four year, minor league career, he has only gotten better, if that’s possible, as a defender. His high baseball IQ and strong work ethic really show when Guillorme takes the field. He makes all the routine plays, and he gets to some balls even good shortstops can’t. He makes the difficult plays look routine, and he makes the impossible look plausible. While he may not have a great arm, he has a quick release.

As a defender, Guillorme is major league ready. At the plate, he needs some time.

Guillorme does have a good eye and is disciplined at the plate. In his minor league career, Guillorme has a .355 OBP, and he drew a walk in 8.5% of his plate appearances last year. When he swings, he usually makes contact, as evidenced by his low 12.5% strike out rate last year. At this point in his career, Guillorme knows who he is as a hitter. He focuses on getting on base the best ways he knows how which is usually drawing walks, looking for open holes in the infield, or dragging a bunt. It should be noted, Guillorme is a good bunter in a day and age where that is becoming a lost skill.

The hope with Guillorme is that he will continue to mature physically allowing him to mature as a hitter and possibly hit for more power. There is some hope to that end with him hitting a career high in doubles, triples, and homers for St. Lucie last year. In 12 at-bats this Spring, he’s already hit a triple and a home run.

If Guillorme’s bat does start catching up to his glove, the sky is the limit for him. He may go from being the player who was moved to second base to make room for Rosario at shortstop in St. Lucie to a player forcing Rosario to another position so the Mets can put their best defensive infield on the field. With the work ethic we have seen with Guillorme, anything is possible.

Whether Guillorme makes it to the majors as a shorstop or a utility player, he will have completed a long journey that began in his parent’s living room in Venezuela. Just a kid throwing the ball off the walls and trying to catch it. He certainly drove his family crazy at times, and probably some of the neighbors crazy as well. Now? Well as Luis, Sr. says, “Many friends and family use to call us crazy because we allowed him to do that, and now all of them say it was well worth it.”

Time To Call Up Gavin Cecchini

This may seem irrational. It’s most likely premature, but in reality, the Mets can’t keep languishing away with Jose Reyes at third base.  Last night should be the last straw. 

In the game, Reyes dropped a routine flyball that set the stage for the game tying rally. He got on base, and then he was caught between first and second on a pitch in the dirt. He got lucky that Cesar Hernandez hit him in the back. 

It’s at the point where Reyes can’t make routine baseball plays. He’s fighting it. He’s hitting .100/.182/.140. Those numbers are unfathomably low. It’s really difficult to justify playing him right now. 

He’s fortunate that Wilmer Flores is a platoon bat that can’t hit right-handed pitching. He’s also lucky that Flores is also a poor fielder. T.J. Rivera is also a poor fielder at third base. Rivera is also stuck in Triple-A until next week, and he doesn’t draw enough walks to play everyday. 

This leaves the Mets looking for out of the box options. Even if the Mets were to bring back Kelly Johnson, he still needs time to get ready for the season. 

The common refrain is for Amed Rosario. It’s still too soon for him. The Mets likely don’t want to call him up before the Super Two deadline. Moreover, he only has 51 plate appearances above Double-A.  He still needs more time. 

That leaves the Mets looking at Gavin Cecchini

The Mets 2012 first round draft pick has thrived in Triple-A. Entering last night’s game, he played 130 levels in Triple-A hitting .320/.389/.451 with 31 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 62 RBI, and seven stolen bases. 

During Cecchini’s cup of coffee with the Mets last September, he showed he wasn’t intimidated playing in the majors. In four games, he was 2-6 with two doubles and two RBI. 

The issue with Cecchini is where does he play?  With his throwing issues and the rise of Rosario, he had been moved to second. The plan was also to have him work at and expose him to short and third this year. 

The early returns of Cecchini at second are good. He’s played well at the position, and he has started the season playing 12 errorless games. The issue is the Mets have a second baseman in Neil Walker

On that front, the Mets could move Walker to third base. Entering the season, Walker indicated he would be willing to play wherever the Mets needed him to play. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com). Given Reyes’ play, Walker may be needed at third. 

The other option could be playing Cecchini at third. However, with so little time there, and the concerns over his past throwing errors, Cecchini is probably not the best bet for third. Then again, it’s hard to argue that the Mets have there right now is any better. 

Yes, this is a drastic move, but seeing Reyes play and with David Wright likely not close to returning, the Mets have little choice but to pursue the drastic measure. The choices now are really either continue playing Reyes, play a guy who can’t hit right-handed pitching, or roll the dice on a former first round pick. 

At a minimum, it’s hard to argue Cecchini would be any worse. In fact, if Cecchini were to go 1-5 every night while playing mediocre defense, he would be an immeasurable improvement over Reyes.  For that reason alone, it’s time to give Cecchini a chance. 

Duda and Walker: Tale of Two Returns From Back Injury

Last year, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker suffered significant back injuries that caused them to miss significant time.  Duda missed a total of 107 games due to a fracture in his lower back.  With the Mets in a postseason push, and with James Loney being James Loney, he came back in September and wasn’t the same hitter.

For his part, Walker was having a good year and a hot August when he was shut down.  That happens when you complain of not being able to feel your lower extremities during games.  With Walker needing season ending back surgery, his last game of the season was August 27th.

Despite both players having back injuries, the Mets not only brought both players back, but they also planned on him being significant contributors to the 2017 Mets.  This meant the Mets brought back Duda despite his being an arbitration eligible player, and the Mets gave Walker the $17.2 qualifying offer, which he accepted.  While their respective paths back to the Mets this season are similar, their play this season has been disparate.

In 11 games this season, Duda is hitting .256/.356/.615 with four homers and seven RBI.  This is not too far off his career averages of .246/.343/.452.  Since becoming the everyday first baseman in 2014, Duda is a .246/.345/.478 hitter.  The long story short is Duda is getting on base like he has in his career.  While he’s slugging at a much higher clip that we can reasonably expect, Duda has inspired confidence that his 30 home run power is back.  Overall, Duda has done just that.  He has given everyone confidence that he is the same player he was before the back surgery.

Walker has had a different return from his back injury.  In 12 games so far, Walker is hitting .239/.333/.304 with three doubles and three RBI.  The problem is Walker has done his damage almost exclusively from the right-hand side of the plate.  As a right-handed batter, Walker is hitting .389/.450/.556 with all three of his extra base hits.  From the left-hand side of the plate, he is hitting just .143/.265/.143.  Essentially, Walker is playing like Wilmer Flores right now except with much better defense.  The question is whether this is the back or the continuation of something we saw happen with Walker last year.

Now, it is was too soon to say Walker is shot or is the new Flores.  Walker’s play in the field should give every indication he is not limited by the back surgery.  Hopefully, this means Walker should return to his career norms sooner rather than later.  If that is the case, the Mets lineup will get a major boost.

Still, the question needs to be asked whether Walker will return to form.  His inability to hit left-handed is alarming, especially when you consider he hits left-handed much more than he hits right-handed.  To be fair, there are still questions about Duda.  Will his back will permit him to continue to put up these numbers?  We don’t know, nor can we be confident until we see a much larger sample size from both, and perhaps not even then.

Ultimately, the hope is Duda is back and Walker will improve.  If that is the case, the Mets lineup will be even more dangerous, and the Mets will be in position to win the National League East once again.  If it isn’t, the Mets will be stuck in limbo deciding when to move on from these players and to call up Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, or even Gavin Cecchini.  These situations rarely pan out well.  That is why it is so imperative the Mets gamble on both Duda and Walker pays off.

Mets Emulating The Cubs With Cecchini and Rosario

Last season, the Chicago Cubs became one of the most versatile teams we have ever seen, and it played a large part in that team winning their first World Series in over 108 years.

National League MVP Kris Bryant is a natural third baseman also played first, short, and all three outfield positions last year. Javier Baez, a well thought of young defensive shortstop, showed off his talents at second base much of the season showing the world he is the best at getting the tag down. Russell would also play first, third, and left field. Of course, the Cubs also had Ben Zobrist who was playing multiple positions with the Tampa Bay Rays before it became a thing.

With all baseball being a copycat league, teams and organizations have been looking for ways to make their rosters more versatile. The New York Mets will look to do that with their top prospects in Triple A this season.

According to Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Review Journal, the Mets plan on giving both Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario time away from their middle infield positions during the course of the 2017 season. Specifically, Rosario will play third base every 10-12 games, and Cecchini will play shortstop every 10-12 games. Presumably, Cecchini will play shortstop in those games Rosario plays third.

In addition to learning second base and seeing time at his natural shortstop position, there are now unspecified plans in place for Cecchini to see some time at third. This exposure is important for Cecchini because in all likelihood, he may be the best major league ready player in Las Vegas. In his brief cup of coffee last September, Cecchini was 2-6 with two doubles and two RBI. In that small sample size, he didn’t look overwhelmed, and he looked like he belonged.

That is important because the Mets may need him sooner rather than later. No one knows when David Wright is going to return. Both Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are returning from serious back injuries. Asdrubal Cabrera dealt with a knee injury all last season. No one realistically knows if Jose Reyes can handle third base everyday, and his start to this season hasn’t exactly inspired confidence either. Wilmer Flores is a platoon bat. This creates an opportunity for Cecchini. Cecchini can best take advantage of that opportunity if he is able to play more than just shortstop.

For that matter, it also opens up an opportunity for Rosario. If the Mets feel confident with him at third base, it gives them ability to call him up even if there is no significant injury to Cabrera.

In addition to Cecchini and Rosario, the 51s also have Matt Reynolds and Phillip Evans. Reynolds, a good fielding shortstop, has also received playing time at second and third base last season. This year, Reynolds is slated to be the Opening Day left fielder. For his part, Evans, the 2016 Eastern League Batting Champ, has split time between second, third, and short in his minor league career.

With Cecchini, Rosario, Reynolds, and Evans, the Mets are developing a group of young and versatile players. This should make these players more opportunities to get called up to the majors. It should also allow the Mets to put the best players on the field should there be any injuries at the major league level. These players and the Mets organization as a whole will be better off for making these prospects more versatile players.

Enough Excuses, Lock Up These Starters

Looking at this Mets team since 2015, one thing has been perfectly clear: this team is built on pitching, and it will only go as far as the pitching carries them. In 2015, when their starters were healthy and able to last the season, the Mets were able to win the National League Pennant. In 2016, with three of the arms going down, the Mets were still good enough to enter the postseason as the top Wild Card.

The Mets have been fortunate because the pitching has been cheap. It was not until recently that Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom entered their arbitration years. Noah Syndergaard won’t be arbitration eligible until after this season. It is interesting because it is after this season that things begin to become murky. Harvey and Wheeler are scheduled to become free agents after the 2018 season with deGrom becoming a free agent the season after that.

With the Mets success rising and falling on their pitching, it begs the question why haven’t the Mets selected at least one or two pitchers and come to terms on a contract extension. The common refrain among Mets fans is the team should keep Syndergaard and deGrom and join them in a rotation that one day may also feature Robert Gsellman, Justin Dunn, and Thomas Szapucki. For now, even with the clock ticking, the Mets aren’t making a move.

While it may not make sense to most Mets fans, in a report by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the New York Mets have advised why they have not entered into contract extension discussions with any of their young pitching:

1. Injuries

As GM John Ricco explained, “[GM] Sandy [Alderson] has not said let’s be aggressive in that area, and that [injuries] is the biggest reason.”

Fact of the matter is each one of these pitchers have an issue. Harvey, deGrom, Matz, and Wheeler have all had Tommy John surgery. Harvey, deGrom, and Matz all had season ending surgery last year. Even someone healthy like Syndergaard dealt with bone spurs last year. Point is, the Mets pitchers have not been exactly healthy, nor do they inspire confidence they will be healthy going forward. To that end, the Mets relative inactivity has been understandable.

2. Lack of Urgency

As noted in Sherman’s piece, the Mets do not have a pending free agent until the after the 2018 season, and Syndergaard isn’t a free agent until after the 2021 season. Honestly, this reason is a bit disingenuous. With Harvey’s pending free agency many expect this is Harvey’s last season in a Mets uniform as the team does not want to risk him walking in free agency and the team getting nothing in return for him.

3. Pitchers Aren’t Interested In Extensions

According to Ricco, who would know this better than fans, extension discussions are typically begun by the player and his agent. Again, with fans not being in the business, it is hard to challenge him on this. With that said, it is hard to believe the Mets would be willing to let all their pitchers go to free agency without so much as initiating contract disucssions with them. Frankly, it is harder to believe when you consider back in 2012, the Mets pounced on an opportunity to give Jon Niese a five year contract extension.

4. Personalities

As noted in Sherman’s piece, when you give a contract extension to one player, it is going to have ripple effects. As Ricco said, “You would have to manage personalities because if you do [an extension] with one, how does it impact the others?”

Now, this is a bit of an overstatement on Ricco’s part. Entering into contract extensions with the pitchers should be part of an overall plan. For example, when Omar Minaya was the General Manager, he was faced with Jose Reyes pending arbitration in 2006, he agreed with a four year pact with his shortstop. Minaya then quickly moved and locked up David Wright to a six year deal. While Alderson is dealing with more than just two players, Minaya’s actions certainly show if the team has a plan an executes it, there should be no issues.

5. Budget

It is something Mets fans don’t want to hear, but it is a reality. After this season, the Mets will have Reyes, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and Fernando Salas as free agents. The team will have to decide on options for Jerry Blevins and Asdrubal Cabrera. In addition, all of the Mets marquee starting pitchers will be in arbitration thereby escalating their salaries. Furthermore, Jeurys Familia will also be owed a lot of money in arbitration if he has another stellar year. Long story short, the Mets will have to spend some money this offseason.

In order to do that, the Mets need to have the money. As Ricco explains, “Once you’ve locked in [on an extension], you do limit flexibility in some ways.”

Now, it is easy to say the Mets can plug in Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith next year, but at this point, it is not known if they will be ready to be 2018 Opening Day starters. Putting forth such a plan would be folly, especially for a team that can still compete for a World Series.

Overall, the Mets concerns over not extending their pitchers have some merit, especially when you consider the injury issues. Still, the longer the Mets wait, the more expensive each of these starting pitchers will become. As they become more expensive, the chances of locking up more than one of them significantly decreases. Sooner or later, the Mets are going to have to take a chance on a couple of these pitchers if they have designs of competing for World Series over the next decade. With Harvey being a free agent after next season, the sooner the Mets begin executing a plan, the better.

Reyes Cannot Hit Lead-Off Anymore

After the game last night, Terry Collins joked, “I’ve got the FBI looking for the real Jose Reyes right now.”  

Instead of having the FBI look for Reyes, Collins should have the FBI look for a better option at third base and to bat lead-off. 

Now, no one can reasonably believe that Reyes is as bad as his current 1-27 streak. Even with Reyes fighting it since Spring Training, you’d expect him to at least beat out a throw with his speed. Reyes is better than this.

And yet, Reyes still isn’t good enough to be asked to play everyday and lead-off. Since Reyes’ career year in 2011 when he became the first ever Mets player to win a batting title, Reyes has been on a decline. That decline has been accelerated the past three years. 

Consider during his first go-round with the Mets, Reyes was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 25 doubles, 11 triples, nine homers, 47 RBI, and 41 stolen bases a season.  In that time, he accumulated 27.9 WAR. However, Reyes was more than just stats He was a dynamic shortstop whose exuberance pumped up the team and the crowd. 

Since leaving the Mets, Reyes has been a .281/.331/.410 hitter who has averaged 21 doubles, four triples, eight homers, 37 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. The bulk of those stats come from Reyes first year in both Miami and Toronto. The numbers get worse from there.

In the last three seasons, Reyes is a .279/.321/.400 hitter who averages 24 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 43 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. 

Now, with Reyes coming back to the Mets last year, the narrative was Reyes would be rejuvenated by playing for the Mets again. As we see with Reyes’ 1-27 streak this season, that has been proven false. 

Reyes is a 33 year old player in decline. He’s more in decline as a left-handed batter as he has been a .225/.276/.347 hitter. 

When you can’t hit right-handed pitching anymore, you can’t play everyday. When you have a .321 OBP over the past three seasons, you can’t hit leadoff. 

The issue here is that this is a problem with no easy solution. Wilmer Flores has the same issues against right-handed pitching. Many Mets fans solution would be to platoon him with Kelly Johnson, but Johnson is still a free agent. 

T.J. Rivera was a big part of the Mets push to the Wild Card last year, but it’s doubtful he can play everyday as his aggressiveness at the plate has suppressed his OBP in his minor league career. 
It’s probably still too early to consider Gavin Cecchini or Amed Rosario to get the call-up. No one can reasonably say when David Wright will return. 

And with that, the Mets are likely out of third base options. Arguably, Reyes is still the best option at third base. That argument gets harder and harder to defend with each out he makes. 

One thing that is indefensible is batting him lead-off. His .321 OBP over the past three years demands he hit lower in the lineup. His struggles this season beg for it to happen sooner rather than later. 

In his place, the Mets can literally pick anyone else as they cannot possibly be this poor. Ideally, that someone would also play third base. Unfortunately, that player does not exist, at least right now. 

Perhaps that player will be discovered as part of the FBI investigation. 

2017 Mets Minor League Rosters Best of the Best

With the full season minor leagues having their Opening Day on Thursday, the Mets have announced the rosters for each of their minor league affiliates. Each team includes an interesting group of prospects. Each team also features a particular strength of each aspect of the Mets farm system. Keeping in mind each particular group is viewed not just in terms of how good the players are now, but also how they project going forward, here are the best of the best:

Best Starting Pitching – St. Lucie Mets

Starting Rotation: Andrew Church, Justin Dunn, Marcos Molina, Nabil Crismatt, Kevin Canelon, Chase Ingram, Thomas McIlrath, Joe Shaw

The St. Lucie rotation features a number of pitchers who may very well make their way to a major league mound. The former second round draft pick Church fixed both his hip and his mechanics, and he had a breakout season last year. Dunn is already a top 10 Mets prospect a year after he was drafted. Molina is back from Tommy John surgery, and he has looked good in both the Arizona Fall Leauge and Spring Training. Crismatt more than held his own against the vaunted Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic. This is as exciting a rotation as there is in the minor leauges, and possibly, you will see some version of this rotation with the Mets one day.

Honorable Mention: Columbia Fireflies. A rotation with Jordan Humphreys, Merandy Gonzalez, and Harol Gonzalez is a very interesting minor league rotation. It would have been more interesting with Thomas Szapucki, but he is slated to miss time due to a shoulder impingement.

Best Bullpen – Las Vegas 51s

Bullpen: Paul Sewald, David Roseboom, Ben Rowen, Beck Wheeler, Erik Goeddel, Chase Bradford)

The 51s bullpen features Sewald and Roseboom who were both extremely effective closers last season. Certainly, both impressed the Mets enough to get long looks during Spring Training. Prior to having bone spurs removed, Goeddle was an effective major league reliever. Rowen gives you a different look with his sidewinding action on the mound. Arguably, this could be a major league bullpen that could hold its own.

Honorable Mention: Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The Rumble Ponies bullpen has Corey Taylor, who has been favorable compared to Jeurys Familia, as its closer. There are some other interesting names like Ben Griset, who is a very promising LOOGY, and Luis Mateo, who was once a very well thought out prospect before he faced some injury issues.

Best Catching Tandem – Las Vegas 51s

Catchers: Kevin Plawecki, Xorge Carrillo, Jeff Glenn

If nothing else, Plawecki has established he can handle a major league starting staff. More to the point, Plawecki has shown himself to be a very good pitch framer. While his bat has lagged in the majors, at 26, he still has time to improve. Behind him is Carrillo, who is a good defensive catcher that won the Gold Glove in the Mexican Winter Leagues this past offseason.

Honorable Mention: Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Tomas Nido seemingly put it all together in St. Lucie last year, and he appears poised to take the mantle as the Mets catcher of the future. Binghamton very easily could have been named the top catching tandem off that, but some deference was paid to Plawecki showing he can handle the position defensively at the major league level.

Best Infield – Las Vegas 51s

Infield – 1B Dominic Smith, 2B Gavin Cecchini, 3B Phillip Evans, SS Amed Rosario

When the weak point of your infield is a player who is coming off a season where he won the Eastern League batting title, you know you have something special. Rosario and Smith are considered two of the best prospects not only at their positions, but in the entire game. Cecchini played well enough last year to be put on the 40 man roster a year ahead of schedule and earn a September call-up where he hit two doubles in six major league at-bats.

Honorable Mention: St. Lucie Mets. The team features a pair of 2016 draft picks in 1B Peter Alonso and SS Colby Woodmansee who showed real ability during their time in Brooklyn. Due to that success, they both skipped Columbia and joined an interesting second base prospect in Vinny Siena and a promising hitter at third base in Jhoan Urena.

Best Outfield – Columbia Fireflies

Outfield – Desmond Lindsay, Gene Cone, Jacob Zanon, Tim Tebow

No, this isn’t because of Tebow. This is mostly about Lindsay, who has been labeled as an “offensive machine” by the Mets organization. He is a five tool prospect that with a little health will arrive at Citi Field sooner rather than later. Another interesting five tool prospect is former Division II player Zanon. He certainly has all the tools to succeed. It is a question whether those tools can translate against better competition. Cone is a player who has a good baseball IQ, but he still needs to translate that and his talent to on the field success

Honorable Mention: Las Vegas 51s. The outfield got demonstratively better with the recent signing of Desmond Jennings. It will get better with either Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto playing for them again. That depends on Nimmo’s health as well as the health of the major league outfield. It will also be interesting to see how Matt Reynolds handles taking on what was Ty Kelly‘s role last year in being a utility player that mostly plays left field.

Overall, the Mets have a number of good to very good prospects who are either close or project to be major leaguers. Some of those players like Rosario will be stars. Others should have long major league careers. While we are getting excited for another year of Mets baseball, we also have a lot to be excited about for years to come with these prospects.

 

Five Prospects Who May Contribute In 2017

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.

#1 David Roseboom

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.

#3 Dominic Smith

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.