Amed Rosario

Gavin Cecchini Needs to Be Up Here Now

Last night, the Mets received some devastating news when it was discovered that Neil Walker was going to miss the rest of the season due to a herniated disc that is going to require surgery.  With Walker done for the year, the Mets are missing not only a good defender, but also a good bat.  Someway, somehow the Mets are going to have to replace Walker’s .282/.347/.476 batting line and his 23 homers.  It is no easy task.

The obvious solution is a Wilmer FloresKelly Johnson platoon.  That tandem should be able to replicate Walker’s production as both are incredibly hot at the plate.  Flores hit .306/.346/.542 in August with five homers and 19 RBI.  Better yet, he is hitting .340/.386/.691 with 10 homers and 26 RBI off lefties this season.  For his part, Johnson is hitting .289/.353/.511 with eight homers and 20 RBI in 60 games for the Mets.  Over the last month, he is hitting .288/.348/.576 with five homers and 14 RBI.  Johnson also had that game winning bases clearing RBI double last night that helped the Mets win the game.

If second base were the only issue, that would be fine.  However, the Mets have issues at first base and shortstop that needs to be addressed.

At first base, the Mets have a floundering James Loney.  In the month of August, he hit .213/.222/.447 with just one extra base hit.  Worse yet, these numbers were with Terry Collins shielding him against left-handed pitching.  As we saw last night, Collins is going to be forced to play Flores at first and Johnson at second.  When you couple that with Asdrubal Cabrera dealing with a knee injury, the Mets do not have much margin for error.

Even with the rosters expanding today, that remains to be true as the players on the 40 man roster leave a lot to be desired as an everyday replacement.

the 40 man roster, the Mets have enigmatic options.

Eric Campbell is once again dominating AAA hitting .297/.396/.428 with 13 doubles, four triples, five homers, and 40 RBI. Yes, four triples. However, this follows a stint where he didn’t hit in the majors going .159/.270/.222.

Ty Kelly is coming off a decent stint in the majors where Collins shielded the switch-hitter against left-handed pitching.  Since his demotion Kelly is hitting .258/.314/.290 with only one extra base hit in the extremely hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.

Finally, there is Matt Reynolds who hit .211/.231/.382 in 37 games with the Mets. After the AAA All Star Break, Reynolds has been hitting .255/.333/.294 with only four doubles in 102 at bats.

Keep in mind, T.J. Rivera is not an option at the moment as he needs to remain in the minors until next week because he was sent down to make room for Rafael Montero‘s spot start.  This means that even though the Mets have warm bodies available to play the middle infield, they do not have players who can play everyday at the major league level.

With these three not hitting or having established they are not capable of hitting at the major league level, the Mets need to turn in another direction for help. With that in mind, the Mets best option is their 2012 first round draft pick Gavin Cecchini.

While playing shortstop this season, Cecchini has been hitting .327/.388/.449 with 27 doubles, two triples, seven homers, and 53 RBI. Over the past month, Cecchini is hitting .358/.378/.480 with nine doubles, two homers, and 12 RBI. While many have knocked his defense as he has a woeful .929 fielding percentage, it is notable that Cecchini has gone his last 14 games without an error.

For what it is worth, Cecchini has only played one game at secondin his minor league career, and that was Thursday.  It should be noted with the rise of Amed Rosario and the trade of Dilson Herrera, Cecchini’s future will be second base.  Given the fact that Collins had no issue throwing Reynolds into left field in a game without him having ever played there before, the concerns about him not being a second baseman are a bit overblown.

In reality, the only thing preventing the Mets from calling up Cecchini right now is the fact that he’s not on the 40 man roster.  However, with the Jon Niese and Neil Walker injuries, the Mets have the opportunity to move either of them to the 60 day disabled list freeing up a spot for Cecchini.  Keep in mind, the Mets are going to have to add Cecchini this offseason anyway to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

With the Mets needing to patch things together on the right side of their infield, they need as many options as possible.  They also need some insurance for Cabrera’s knee.  They could use another shortstop who could take over for Cabrera late in games to allow him to rest his knee.  Furthermore, given the Mets team speed, they could use someone who could be available to pinch run late in games.

Cecchini could fulfill each of these roles quite well.  Furthermore, if given the opportunity, he might just prove more valuable than that.  At this point, there is really no good reason to keep Cecchini in AAA.  He needs to be up in the majors now helping the Mets return to the postseason.

Editor’s Note: this article also appeared on Mets Minors

A Huge Game for the Mets, A Bigger One for Rafael Montero

It’s hard to think of a time when there was so much riding on one game not just for a team, but also for the team’s starting pitcher.

For the Mets, the largeness of the situation is obvious.  The Mets are entering a four game set against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field.  The Mets are currently one game behind the Marlins in the race for the second Wild Card, and they are 2.5 games back (three in the loss column) of the St. Louis Cardinals.  By winning three out of four, the Mets will go from one game back of the Marlins to going two games ahead of them in the Wild Card race.  The hope is also that the Mets make up some ground against the Cardinals and Pirates as well.

For Rafael Montero, there is so much more at stake.  For Montero, his future with the entire Mets organization could very well be coming to an end.  The Mets have notable prospects like Amed Rosario, Gavin Cecchini, and Marcos Molina who will need to be added to the 40 man roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft.  Given Montero’s failures at the major league level, and the fact that the team has been frustrated with him for well over a season now, Montero’s future with the Mets looks bleak.

It never looked bleaker than when he was demoted to AA earlier this season.  However, something strange happened there.  For the first time in his career, Montero responded to adversity.  In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP.  It is clearly the best Montero has ever pitched in his entire career.  Part of the reason why is because Montero’s command is much better in AA, and his changeup has been better.  Given his repetoire, both were always a necessity for him in order to succeed.  Another possibility for Montero’s success was his facing presumably weaker batters in AA.  This has all lead to him having more confidence on the mound, and him returning to the type of pitcher that once was regarded as a better prospect than Jacob deGrom.

The Mets need that Montero tonight against a Marlins team that has a habit of breaking the Mets’ hearts.  It’s a Marlins team that is sending their ace, Jose Fernandez, to the mound tonight.  Not only is Fernandez an ace, but he has dominated the Mets in his young career.  In seven starts against the Mets, he is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA, 0.951 WHIP, and an 11.9 K/9.  He has limited the Mets’ batters to a .181/.247/.236 batting line.  The Mets are going to need Montero to be lights out in order to keep them in the game.

If he is, Montero will not only help the Mets postseason chances, he will also help himself.  He can change what the Mets perception of him will be.  He can once again find himself a part of the Mets future instead of being a guy who may very well be on his way out the door.

 

Rafael Montero Is a Non-Starter for the Mets

In the offseason, the Mets have more 40 man roster decisions looming.  Here are some notable Mets minor leaguers who will be needed to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft:

  1. Amed Rosario
  2. Wuilmer Becerra
  3. Gavin Cecchini
  4. Marcos Molina
  5. Paul Sewald
  6. Travis Taijeron
  7. Paul Paez
  8. Phillip Evans
  9. Champ Stuart
  10. Chase Bradford

There are many other roster choices the Mets will have to make aside from the aforementioned players.  With that the Mets are going to have to make some tough 40 man decisions.  With the Mets refusal to call-up Rafael Montero, he certainly stands to be one of the first people cut from the roster.  With that in mind, isn’t it in the Mets best interests to find out what they have in him?

At this point in his career, Montero was supposed to be a fixture in the Mets rotation, or at the very least, a part of the Mets bullpen.  Instead, he is stuck in AA, and he appears on his way out of the Mets organization.

The beginning of the end was last year when he complained of a shoulder injury after being demoted.  The Mets insisted he should be able to pitch through it while Montero stated he couldn’t.  It led to Terry Collins giving him a pep talk during a Mets road trip to Miami last August.  Collins then lectured Montero in Spring Training about how he needed to step it up; how it was supposed to be him instead of Bartolo Colon for the fifth spot.  Montero wouldn’t make it out of the first inning in his first Spring Training start, and he would be part of the first group of players demoted to Minor League Spring Training.

Due to a short Steven Matz start and a taxed bullpen, Montero would get called up to pitch out of the bullpen.  Even in obvious situations to use him, Collins refused.  Montero would go over a week without pitching a game, and when he did pitch, Montero would show his rust.  In his two appearances, he pitched 2.1 innings with an alarming 11.57 ERA.  Montero would be demoted.  It wouldn’t be his last demotion.

After going 4-6 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.888 WHIP in 16 AAA starts, he was sent down to AA where he has thrived.  In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP.  It is the best Montero has pitched in his professional career.  Arguably, Montero has become the Mets best minor league pitcher.  Still, the Mets have routinely passed him over.

When Matt Harvey went down for the season, the Mets turned to Logan Verrett.  When Verrett proved he couldn’t be a starting pitcher at the major league level, the Mets went to Jon Niese and his 5.20 ERA to take the fifth spot.  The Mets chose a struggling Gabriel Ynoa as insurance for Niese.  When Steven Matz first had his start skipped, the Mets went with Seth Lugo in the rotation.  Now that Matz is on the disabled list, Lugo is firmly in the rotation.  With Niese going on the disabled list and Robert Gsellman performing admirably in relief last night, Gsellman is going to take Niese’s sport in the rotation, which used to be Verrett’s spot, which used to be Harvey’s spot.  Point is the Mets are going through a lot of pitchers before even considering Montero.

The Mets didn’t even so much as call-up Montero to take Ynoa’s or Gsellman’s spot in the AAA rotation.  They didn’t go to Montero for a spot start or to go back to the bullpen.  The Mets went with Ynoa and Gsellman despite them not being relievers and with Montero having experience as a reliever.  It’s likely the Mets won’t turn to Montero unless there is another rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and perhaps not even then.  It is possible the Mets will call him up September 1st, but given Collins apparent unwillingness to use him, it’s extremely doubtful he will even appear in a game.

Fact is Montero is done with the Mets, and he is merely occupying a very valuable 40 man roster spot.  A roster spot the Mets could have used to protect Dario Alvarez, a very valuable reliever the Mets lost for  nothing.  A roster spot the Mets will need to protect a prospect who still has a future with the team.  Montero has no future with the Mets, and the Mets aren’t even going to see what they have in him before he leaves the team.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors

Is the Mets Window Closing?

Right now, the Mets are four games out of a Wild Card spot, and they are desperately hoping with Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera coming off the disabled list this week that the team goes on a run that will bring them back into the postseason.  Whether or not that works, it is fair to ask if this is the Mets last chance to win the World Series.

The foundation of this team is its starting pitching.  Matt Harvey has gone from Opening Day starter to question mark with his season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome.  There is no telling how effective he will be if he is able to come back.

Zack Wheeler was supposed to be back by the All Star Break.  Now, it appears that he will miss his second consecutive season.  While rehabbing from the surgery, Wheeler has had to have a second surgery to deal with forearm irritation caused by stitches, sensory nerve irritation, and now a flexor strain.  He had been treated by Dr. Dave Altchek, and he sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews.  We are continuously assured there are no structural issues, and yet, time and again there is a new excuse why he can’t pitch.  At the end of the day, it does not matter if he is unable to pitch due to his elbow or for other reasons.  Who knows when he can return or how effective he will be when returning.

There are more question marks in the rotation.  Steven Matz has yet to have a healthy season in the majors.  Bartolo Colon will be 44 years old next year meaning there is no guarantee that he pitches beyond this year.  Even if he does, there is no guarantee he will be this effective.  Logan Verrett has shown he is not capable of being a member of the starting rotation.  Sean Gilmartin‘s season ended early with shoulder problems.  The Mets aren’t going to pick up Jon Niese‘s option, and even if they did bring him back, you should probably expect more of the same from him.

The Mets other options are Gabriel Ynoa and Robert Gsellman, both of whom are probably not ready to start in the majors.  Even if they are, both realistically project to be middle to back of the rotation starters.  That certainly helps, but that also a huge drop off from someone like Harvey.

As if the starting pitching wasn’t a big enough issue, there is the issue of the Mets offense.

As we saw this year, you cannot rely upon David Wright at all.  The Mets have no internal options to replace his bat in the lineup.  Worse yet, there is a lack of very good options on the free agent market choices available even if the Mets were so inclined to add a bat.  Keep in mind, they may also have to replace Lucas Duda at first base.  In 2015, Duda had a disc issue.  This year, Duda will miss almost the entire season with a stress fracture in his back.  There is a very real chance that he is a non-tender candidate.  The Mets do not have a first base option in the minors who is on track to play in the majors next year, and again, the free agent market is less than promising.  That means James Loney can once again be the Mets best option, and as we have seen, he is not a terribly good everyday option.

This isn’t even the Mets biggest problem, not by a long shot.

Cespedes can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and he will easily become the best free agent available.  The narrative coming out of last offseason was how much Cespedes wanted to be a Met, and that is why he returned.  That’s the hope why he will stay.  However, it’s more narrative than fact.

The fact is Cespedes didn’t get a fair market value offer on the free agent market.  Judging from the free agent contracts handed out, teams placed a higher value on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton.  The teams you would think would be interested in Cespedes gave the money to somebody else.  The Nationals were interested, but due to budgetary constraints, they only offered Cespedes a largely backloaded deal. It is possible that after another postseason berth, and Jonathan Papelbon‘s salary off the books, the Nationals could make another run at Cespedes in the offseason.  It is also possible that the Giants, Dodgers, Rangers and/or the Angels could emerge as suitors for Cespedes.  There’s always the phantom mystery team that could join the bidding.

It is certainly plausible the Mets get outbid from Cespedes, or they simply move on from him.  Keep in mind, there were rumblings all over that the Jay Bruce trade was made, in part, as insurance for Cespedes leaving in the offseason.  If that is the case, the Mets outfield will yet again be left without a true center fielder.

The main task may first fall to Curtis Granderson, who has struggled mightily this year and should not be counted on to rebound in 2017.  The Mets could go with a Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo platoon in center, but that would leave no room for Michael Conforto to play everyday.

Speaking of Conforto, there is another major issue with this Mets team.  Both Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud have regressed this year.  Certainly, Conforto’s wrist and d’Arnaud’s shoulder are factors, but the fact remains, they have regressed.  Couple that with Kevin Plawecki not progressing at all, there is a major issue.  Either the Mets young talent is not as good as anticipated, or there are impediments at the major league level that is preventing them from reaching their full potential.  In order for the Mets to remain contenders, they will need their young players to step up.

Between the aforementioned free agent market and lack of major league ready prospects, the Mets only real hopes of improving the roster is on the trade front.  The problem there is the cupboard is getting bare.  The Mets have already moved big pieces in Michael Fulmer and Dilson Herrera.  They’re not willing to move Amed Rosario, and they are really unlikely to move Dominic Smith.  The Mets could move Nimmo, but that depletes from their depth for next season, and as we have seen, the Mets need all the depth they can get.

Keep in mind that over the past two seasons, the Mets have also moved Robert Whalen, Luis Cessa, John Gant, Akeel Morris, and Casey Meisner.  They lost Matthew Bowman and Dario Alvarez without getting anything in return.  Their departures leaves a gap of mid-tier prospects the Mets could move for upgrades.

Yes, the Mets can field a very competitive baseball team next year.  As long as you have pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, you are going to have a chance to compete.  With another year of Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, it is a seven inning game for the Mets.  It’ll become a six inning game if Hansel Robles takes the next step.  But after that?

You’re counting on Neil Walker returning, which is not a guarantee.  You’re counting on Asdrubal Cabrera developing more range at shortstop while hitting better than .255/.308/.410.  He was a .249/.307/.405 hitter from 2013 – 2015.  You’re counting on Jose Reyes to hit better than his .250/.302/.466 and be healthy all of next year.  Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 while hitting in two of the best hitter’s parks last year.  You’re counting on Wilmer Flores being able to learn to hit righties.  You’re counting on the Mets not having to rely on the Eric Campbells and Ty Kellys on the world for prolonged stretches of time over the next season.  It’s all possible, but it’s not likely.

As things look right now, the Mets better start winning some ballgames and make a run because there is no guarantee that the Mets window to contend will remain open past this season.

Trading Dilson Herrera Was a Bad Idea

Coming into the season, the Mets were high on Dilson Herrera, and they viewed him as the second baseman of the near future.  It is why the Mets let postseason hero Daniel Murphy walk, and they eschewed other long term free agent options to trade for Neil Walker who was a year away from free agency.  However, the Mets made it perfectly clear they were willing to forego Herrera as the second baseman of the future if the right player came along.  That is why the Mets doggedly pursued Ben Zobrist in the offseason.  For the right piece or for the right price, the Mets were going to move on from Herrera to make the team better.

It is just hard to believe that player was Jay Bruce.

There is a lot to like about Bruce.  He is a traditional slugger who is leading the league in RBI.  He has a very affordable team option.  He is insurance against Yoenis Cespedes missing an extended period of time this year, and quite possibly insurance against him leaving in free agency.  He also helps with a sluggish Mets offense and with the Mets inability to hit with runners for scoring position.  He is also more of the same.

This is a Mets team full of low OBP, high slugging outfielders – Bruce, Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Conforto.  With the exception of Cespedes, all of the Mets current outfield options are left-handed batters.  What this team doesn’t have is a center fielder.  Currently, the best defensive center fielder on the team is Alejandro De Aza.  While he is the team’s hottest hitter and best defender, it is hard to imagine he is going to be an everyday player while the team sits one of Granderson or Conforto everyday.  In sum, Bruce is a nice offensive upgrade, but he doesn’t solve the teams problems.  With that in mind, it seems like Herrera was a steep price to pay for someone that doesn’t solve what ails the team.

It’s also selling low on Herrera in what has been a tough year for him.  Herrera has gone from a .327/.382/.511 hitter to a .276/.327/.462 hitter in AAA this year.  He has had nagging shoulder issues, and he has fallen into some bad habits at the plate.  It has been the first time the 22 year old has struggled at the minor league level.  However, given the fact that he is still young for his level, and the fact that his struggles are closely associated with an injury, there is every reason to believe Herrera will rebound and become the All Star second baseman the Mets envisioned he would become.  That is a steep price to pay for a duplicative player that does not solve the Mets problems.

We are just seeing it now with Michael Fulmer in Detroit.  Fulmer was the big time prospect the Mets traded last year.  He is the leading Rookie of the Year contender, and he is certainly in the Cy Young conversation with him going 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP.  With each and every dominant start, it is a stark reminder how much the Mets need him this year with Matt Harvey‘s season ending surgery and Zack Wheeler being well behind schedule to return to the rotation.  Overall, the idea behind trading Fulmer was to trade from depth to acquire a missing piece . . . a missing piece that was an imperfect fit.  As we see last year, the Mets supposed depth was an allusion.

Now, the Mets did trade from depth with Herrera.  Gavin Cecchini could move from shortstop to second, which now seems to be his destiny with the meteoric rise of Amed RosarioWilmer Flores could move over there next year.  The Mets could always re-sign Neil Walker or another free agent or make another trade.  Depending on David Wright‘s health, Jose Reyes could move from third to second.  There are any number of factors at play, but as we see again this year, the Mets can never have enough depth as this team seems more snakebitten than any other team in the majors.  With that in mind, the Mets are now less deep at second base, and they are quite possibly without their best second base option for next year.

The Mets traded away another big time prospect for another slugging corner outfielder.  Hopefully, Bruce will have a similar effect on the Mets as Cespedes did last year.  The Mets are going to need that type of performance to help them get back to the postseason.  They are going to need that type of performance to help Mets fans forget about the player they gave away in Herrera.

Who To Trade?

Last year, the Mets parted with number of pitching prospects in a drive to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2006.  Over the course of this past year, we have seen some of them actually pitching in the major leagues:

  • In 16 starts for the Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP.  He is the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and he should receive some Cy Young Award votes at the end of the season.
  • The Tigers traded Luis Cessa in the offseason to the New York Yankees.  Cessa has pitched briefly out of the bullpen for the Yankees this year.  In his six appearances, he has pitched 13.2 innings going 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.244 WHIP.
  • The Atlanta Braves do not seem quite sure what to make of John Gant and his quirky delivery, but they seem to be convinced he’s a major league caliber pitcher.  Out of the bullpen, Gant has made seven appearances with no record, a 6.17 ERA, and a 1.714 WHIP.  As a starter, Gant has performed considerably better going 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP.

As we know, the Mets got Yoenis Cespedes for Fulmer and Cessa.  Gant was part of a trade that netted the Mets Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.  The Mets also made trades of varying success to obtain Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, and Eric O’Flaherty.  Overall, the Mets gave up valuable pieces to obtain major league players that helped them win the National League Pennant.

As of right now, the Mets are in a similar situation to where they were last season.  They need to assess what they need (starter, reliever, and right handed bat off the bench) and what they are willing to trade to obtain those pieces.  Sooner or later, the right player is going to come along, and the Mets are going to have to decide whether to trade next year’s Fulmer for this year’s Cespedes.  The issue becomes who do you and who do you not trade.  Here is a look at the Mets top prospects teams are sure to be inquiring about.

Amed Rosario

Each and every team is going to inquire on Rosario, and the answer time and time again is going to be no.  It’s for good reason as well.  When the Mets signed him out of the Dominican Republic, his defense was seen as a given, but there were concerns about his bat.  Rosario has put many of those concerns to bed by hitting .321/.372/.464 with 19 doubles, 12 triples, three homers and 56 RBI between St. Lucie and Binghamton.  He was a Florida State Leauge All Star, on the Team World Roster for the Future’s Game, and he was named MLB.com‘s 18th best prospect.  Unless you are talking a Mike Trout trade, Rosario is off the table.

Dominic Smith

This is where things start to get a little interesting as Smith has really taken off since Rosario joined him in AA hitting .336/.398/.626 with five doubles, one triples, eight homers and 27 RBI.  Smith is starting to show the power that could take him from a very good prospect to an elite prospect with the ranks of Rosario.  Already, Smith is a plus defender at first base, and he has the ability to drive the ball gap-to-gap.  If you trade him, you could be trading away the next John Olerud or worse if his power game continues to develop.  If you keep him, you risk him becoming the next James Loney.  Yes, Loney has been a quality major league first baseman, but Loney should never be what stands between you and getting an All Star or difference maker at the trade deadline that could put the team over the top.

Dilson Herrera

It seems that since Herrera came to the Mets in the Marlon Byrd trade, he was touted as the Mets second baseman of the future.  He was someone who could handle the position well defensively while being a real force at the plate.  He showed that he has unique power for the position.  Due to injuries in 2014, the Mets brought him up from AA to play in the majors.  Last year, he was seen as an offensive spark when a number of players went down due to injury.  This year he hasn’t been a consideration at all.  He has struggled in AAA hitting .277/.331/.471 in the Pacific Coast League which is a hitter’s league.  Part of that might be teams figuring him out.  Part of that may be him dealing with a shoulder injury sapping him of some of his offensive ability and having him fall into bad habits at the plate.  He is less patient at the plate, and he is lunging for balls he wouldn’t last year.  If you move him, you are moving the guy that could be a multiple time All Star.  If you don’t, you just might be hanging onto a guy that may never figure it out.

Gavin Cecchini

Cecchini is in a tough position in the Mets organization.  He isn’t seen as good a prospect at short as Rosario, and he has had some trouble handling the position at Cashman Field, who has an infield that is not kind to infielders.  He’s a good hitter hitting .315/.392/.441 with 18 doubles, two triples, five homers, and 40 RBI, and he reminds you of a right-handed Daniel Murphy at the plate.  However, he is not considered as good of an offensive prospect as an Herrera.  Furthermore, his bat does not have the power profile that would play at third or the outfield.  By many accounts, Cecchini will play in the majors one day.  What you don’t know is what he will be.  Will he be the next Murphy at the plate with similar defensive versatility?  With that in mind, will he develop power as he gets older and fills out like Murphy did?  Will he turn into the next Matt Reynolds – a major league utility player?  Again, you don’t want to lose the next Murphy for a rental, but you also don’t want to miss out on someone because you wnated to keep another Reynolds or Joe McEwing type of player.

Kevin Plawecki

Most Mets fans would jump at the opportunity to trade him.  He hasn’t hit at all in the majors despite given extended looks on two different occassions.  However, Plawecki has been a good defensive catcher and pitch framer.  He was also once considered a prospect who could push Travis d’Arnaud for playing time.  Keep in mind that since his demotion, Plawecki is hitting .291/.347/.512 with four doubles, five homers, and 21 RBI in 27 games.  These numbers aren’t exciting, especially in the Pacific Coast League, but it shows he is starting to become more patient at the plate and more selective swinging at pitches.  Also keep in mind that catcher is a position that players tend to develop later in their careers than other positions.  Plawecki could still very well be the Mets catcher of the future, or he could be a solid backup.  He may not be the type of player who should hold up a deal, but he definitively is a player you want to protect if at all possible.

Ultimately, it seems like one of the aforementioned players are going to have to be traded if the Mets want to acquire an impact player like Jonathan Lucroy.  However, they need to be very careful about which one.

In an ideal world, Rosario and Smith are non-starters.  These are two players who are excelling in AA at a young age, and they appear primed to contribute to the Mets sooner than expected.  You do not ever want to give up a Rosario or a Smith.  These players should prove to be fixtures in the Mets lineup for ten plus years.  Still, you’re going to have to give up someone if you are going to want to add that last piece who could put the Mets over the top in 2016.

That piece appears to be between Herrera and Cecchini.  The Mets may very well have a preference between these two players, and coming into this season, it seemed like Herrera.  However, that does not mean they still feel the same way, nor does it mean that other teams think similarly.  Regardless of how the Mets feel, a team may force their hand to trade one or the other to hopefully trade for this year’s version of Yoenis Cespedes.  In the end, it seems like the Mets will be giving up a Herrera or a Cecchini like they did with Fulmer last year if they want to make a move.

The hope is that the player has the impact Cespedes did last year and that the Mets take the next step and win the 2016 World Series.

Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Minors

 

Latest Mets Trade Rumors

With the trade deadline Monday, there are going to be a number of rumors involving the Mets as the Mets were very active in the trade market last year, and they are in the thick of the Wild Card race.  Now, with the Marlins making the first big deadline trade acquiring Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea, Fox Sports Jon Morosi believes it will get the ball rolling with a number of teams, like the Mets, making a number of deals.

The Jonathan Lucroy Sweepstakes

According to ESPN’s Jerry Krasnick, the Tigers are out on the Jonathan Lucroy Sweepstakes.  This might be one of the reasons the Brewers have re-engaged the Mets on Lucroy.  As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal’s Tom Haudricourt reported, the Brewers aren’t getting the offers they thought they would receive in exchange for Lucroy, and they also want to make sure they canvass the area to make sure they get the best possible return they can get for the catcher.

Lucroy would be a huge upgrade over what Travis d’Arnaud has provided the Mets this season.  So far this year, d’Arnaud is hitting .246/.299/.333 with five doubles, two homers, and 10 RBI.  Additionally, d’Arnaud has already had a stint on the disabled list.  Lucroy has been the second best catcher in baseball this season hitting .300/.361/.486 with 17 doubles, three triples, 13 homers, and 50 RBI.  It is not much of a surprise that the Brewers already rejected a straight up deal of Lucroy for d’Arnaud.  According to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers informed the Mets that they want some high end prospects in addition to d’Arnaud in exchange for Lucroy.  In order to get those prospects, Haudricourt says the Brewers would consider bundling Lucroy with one or two of their coveted relievers, which include Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith.

The Mets will have to get creative as, according to ESPN’s Adam Rubin, the Mets do not anticipate either Amed Rosario or Dominic Smith.  Further complicating matters is, as MMO and Mets Minors own Michael Mayer reports, Dilson Herrera has been dealing with a sore shoulder causing him to miss the last four games.

Trade With the Tampa Bay Rays

According to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, the Rays will trade Steve Pearce prior to the trade deadline, and it appears that Matt Moore is the pitcher they will most likely be willing to trade.

According to Crasnick, the Mets are very interested in Rays’ Steve Pearce.  In his career, Pearce has predominantly played first base and outfield.  However, the Rays have not played him in the outfield this year.  Instead, he has played mostly first base with some time at second, third, an DH.

Pearce would certainly fulfill a need for the Mets as he is hitting .312/.384/.528 with 11 doubles, one triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI on the year.  He has hit a respectable .288/.348/.452 against righties, but he is flat out mashing lefties hitting .377/.476/.736 against lefties.  The Mets could desperately use him given some of the splits we have seen with the Mets starters against lefties:

This does not even include Neil Walker who is hitting lefties well this year, but is still a career .262/.320/.357 career hitter against lefties.  Given the injuries to Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes as well as Juan Lagares again being put on the disabled list with the torn ligament in his left thumb, the Mets are going to have to play two or more of the aforementioned players against lefties.

The Mets could also have some interest in Matt Moore, who is 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.269 WHIP in 21 starts.  Moore would be an upgrade over Logan Verrett, and he could be insurance against Steven Matz and the bone spurs in his left elbow.

However, the chances of the Mets acquiring either player is not particularly good at the moment as the Rays intend to drive a hard bargain.  According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Rays asked for Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto in exchange for Moore and Jake Odorizzi.

Relief Help

The Mets were earlier linked briefly to Jon Niese given Matt Harvey‘s season ending surgery.  However, it does not appear as if those talks have gotten anywhere beyond the preliminary stages at this point.  Now, the struggling Niese is in the bullpen alongside Pirates closer Mark Melancon. Melancon is having another strong year as the Pirates closer going 1-1 with a 1.51 ERA and a 0.960 WHIP while recording 30 saves.

According to Rosenthal, the Nationals have been in active trade discussion with the Pirates about Melancon after Jonathan Papelbon has had a rough stretch to the season.  Rosenthal further reports trading the pending free agent Melancon would not signal the team is waiving the white flag.  Instead, the Pirates remain active on the trade market themselves, and they intend to replace Melancon with either Tony Watson or former Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz.

Frankly, it wouldn’t be a trade deadline unless the Nationals were trying to displace their closer.   According to Rosenthal, the Nationals are also in on Royals closer Wade Davis, who is having another great year recording 21 saves while recording a 1.60 ERA and a 1.099 WHIP.

Neither Melancon nor Davis have been linked to the Mets.

The Final Cost

As we see with the ask for Lucroy, the prices are going to be steep at the trading deadline.  In reality, the only thing that helps the Mets chances there is the fact that the Mets are not on Lucroy’s no trade list.    Perhaps the most discouraging sign of all is Passan’s latest report that the Phillies could obtain three to four prospects in exchange for Jeremy Hellickson.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online

The Gavin Cecchini Dilemma

There is probably not hotter prospect in all of baseball right now than Amed Rosario. He recently played in the Future’s Game, Keith Law recently ranked him as the number 14 overall prospect in all of baseball, and the Mets have called him untouchable in trade discussions thereby assuring he is going to be the Mets shortstop of the future. Given the fact that he is hitting .405/.471/.568 with six doubles and three triples in 17 games at AA Binghamton after dominating the Florida State League, the natural question arises as to when he will get called-up to AAA, so he can work on what he needs to work on there before taking over as the Mets shortstop for the next decade or more.

There’s one problem with aggressively promoting Rosario right now. Gavin Cecchini is currently the shortstop for the AAA Las Vegas 51s.

The 22 year old Cecchini was the Mets 2012 first round draft choice (12th overall). He is a well regarded prospect in his own right being listed as the 89th best prospect in all of baseball by Keith Law heading into the season. He was also MLB.com’s 87th best prospect. He was ranked so high as he hit .317/.377/.442 hitter with 26 doubles, four tripes, seven homers, and 51 RBI for AA Binghamton last year. His play in AA merited him a promotion to AAA where he has so far hit .319/.395/.447 with 17 doubles, two triples, five homers, and 40 RBI. Overall, Cecchini’s statistics alone establish that he’s a worthwhile prospect that should not yet be pushed aside.

Ultimately, statistics aside, Cecchini projects to be a good to very good major league hitter. He could quite possibly be the best contact hitter in the Mets’ minor league system. Cecchini has a nice compact swing who hits the ball with authority from gap to gap. In many ways, he reminds you of a right-handed younger Daniel Murphy at the plate. When his body begins to fill out some of those doubles may begin to turn into home runs at the big league level. While he may not be an All Star, he could very well be an above average regular.

There is one problem with Cecchini. Since he has been in the Mets system, he has mostly struggled defensively. This season is no different with him having an extremely poor .916 fielding percentage. While he has been willing to put in the work and do extra work on the side with Wally Backman, the results just aren’t there. Given the presence of Rosario, the natural inclination would be for the Mets to just move Cecchini to second base. This would create room for Rosario at shortstop, and the two can begin building a chemistry together as a future double play combination.

However, the Mets cannot do that as the Mets second baseman of the future, Dilson Herrera, is currently Cecchini’s double play partner in Las Vegas. The Mets have long been high on Herrera. Two years ago, the Mets gave him an 18 game cup of coffee due to a number of injuries. Last year, the Mets called him up to the majors rather quickly when both Murphy and David Wright went down with injuries. While Herrera didn’t produce much during either short stint in the majors, the tools are all there to be a very good major league hitter. He is still only 22 years old, and he has hit .302/.356/.487 while playing in AAA. Herrera can very well make an All Star Game or two on the basis of his bat alone.

And yet, there are some warning flags with Herrera. While he has good hands, he does not project to be a plus defender at second base. Additionally, he has seemingly taken a step back in AAA this year hitting only .278/.330/.465 in what has been an injury plagued year. He has become much less patient at the plate seemingly swinging at everything instead of working the count and getting a pitch to drive. It is somewhat troubling, but he is still only 22 years old, and he has shown he can be a terrific hitter. It is way too early to give up on player who can be a terrific hitter who has plus power for a middle infield position. Accordingly, you can’t just move Cecchini to second.

So what do you do with Cecchini? There are no easy answers.

The Mets could try to move him to third base where he could serve as insurance against David Wright‘s back. Given his lateral mobility and his arm, Cecchini could play the position. However, given Cecchini’s lack of true home run power, he doesn’t have the type of bat that could play at a corner infield position. Furthermore, removing Cecchini from shortstop would only serve to diminish his potential trade value.

Indeed, the Mets could look to trade him like they are apparently willing to do with any prospect named Amed Rosario. However, if the Mets were to do that, they would be parting with a player who has shown he could be a viable major league player. If the Mets were to part with Cecchini, they would be losing a big insurance policy. Rosario and Herrera could falter or get injured like some can’t miss prospects do. In the event that happens, Cecchini could prove to be a valuable piece who takes advantage of his opportunity. Mets fans saw this happen as recently as 2013 when Jacob deGrom established himself as a front line starting pitcher while Rafael Montero became an also ran. In essence, it is important to have depth, and Cecchini is certainly that.

Still, there is no doubt that Rosario and Herrera are the better prospects right now, and you cannot have Cecchini blocking their path to the majors no matter how good Cecchini is. The Mets could make him a third baseman or utility player thereby making him a better option for the big league club, but also diminishing his trade value. Overall, there are seemingly no good answers as to what the Mets should do with Cecchini. In some ways, it is a dilemma. In others, it is a good problem to have.

With the Mets looking to improve their roster in the hopes of both making the postseason and winning the World Series this year, the Mets may very well have to include him in a trade to get that player who puts them over the top.  It’s also likely teams will force the Mets to give up Herrera in a trade.  In either event, the problem will have been solved for the Mets.  In the event that neither one is moved at the trading deadline, things will become interesting for the Mets.  Ultimately, it is going to be very interesting to see how this whole situation eventually plays out.

First Half Mets Minor League Offensive Leaders

Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are either at or have already had their All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league hitter named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:

Class A – Columbia Fireflies

Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets

AA – Binghamton Mets

AAA – Las Vegas 51s

Organizational Leaders

  • AVG: T.J. Rivera LV (.348)
  • OBP: Vinny Siena COL & STL (.413)
  • SLG: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
  • OPS: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
  • R: Travis Taijeron (61)
  • H: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (107)
  • 2B: Travis Taijeron LV (35)
  • 3B: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (11)
  • HR: Johnny Monell LV (14)
  • RBI: Travis Taijeron LV (69)
  • SB: Champ Stuart STL & BNG (26)

* stats are updated through July 13, 2016

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net

 

Rosario to Herrera to Smith

The most famed double play trio in Major League history was Joe TinkerJohnny Evers, and Frank Chance. They were so renown that Franklin Pierce Adams would script a poem about them dubbed Baseball’s Sad Lexicon:

These are the three saddest possible words:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Trio of bears cubs, and fleeter than birds,

Tinker and Evers and Chance.

Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,

Making a Giant hit into a double –

Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

As we all saw in the Future’s Game, the Mets are developing their own trio of young stars that people will wax poetic about for years to come.

For the first time ever, Amed RosarioDilson Herrera, and Dominic Smith took the field at the very same time.  These are the very same three players that the Mets envision to be their own version of Tinker to Evers to Chance.  It was easy to believe this is the future when Mets fans got to see the Future’s Game to watch Rosario make plays like this:

This of course followed Herrera and Rosario helping the World Team put up a crooked number in the top of the ninth.  Herrera hit an RBI single to put the World team ahead 5-3, and Rosario followed him with a single to load the bases.  Both would eventually come home to score  Seeing Herrera and Rosario get back to back base hits and score runs is something Mets fans will start seeing in the very near future.

Smith did his part to help USA win the game.  He was one of the few players on the day that would play the entire game.  As anticipated, he played a good defensive first base.  He also had an RBI, which at the time had put USA up 2-0.

Overall, we saw each future Mets player contribute and help their teams try to win the game.  Within the next few years, they will all take the field at the same time at Citi Field.  Given their offensive capabilities, they will help their pitching staff get a lead in a game.  Given their defense they will be able to turn a double play or two in the game.  There will be excitement amongst the fans at Citi Field while the opposition and their fans will feel dejected as the Mets double play combination will give them “nothing but trouble.”  Everyone else will shudder at the words:

Rosario to Herrera to Smith