Amed Rosario

Amed Rosario Has What It Takes to be Great

On April 26th, Amed Rosario gave everyone a glimpse as to why he’s a great player who will play and thrive in the majors one day. 

Rosario was the driving force in the St. Louis Mets’ 10-5 win over the Charlotte Stone Crabs. In the game, he went 3-5 with a run, triple, homer, and four RBI. He was just a singe short of the cycle. It was a big games in what has been a terrific season this has been for Rosario. He’s hitting .322/.351/.563. In just 21 games, he’s tied his career high in homers.  He’s one triple short of tying his career high in that catergory. 

So far this year, Rosario is the Florida State League’s leader in triples, hits, and total bases. He’s second in the league in RBI and slugging. These numbers are impressive for any prospect. They’re more impressive when you consider he’s 20 years old, which makes him about three years younger than the average age of the players in the league. It’s even more impressive when you consider there were questions about his bat when Rosario signed as a 17 year old out of the Dominican Republic. 

When Rosario was signed, his defense was seen as a given, if not elite. However, teams were splits as to whether Rosario would ever hit. So far in his minor league career, he has quieted these concerns. This year he’s starting to show he could be a good hitter in the big leagues. 

Despite how far he’s come offensively, and his terrific day at the plate, Rosario wasn’t patting himself on the back:

No, Rosario is focusing on how he can improve his game. He’s thinking about what he needs to do to become a better player. It’s not only an example of why he’s become a much better hitter, it’s also an example why he will continue to become a much better player. It’s part of his #DontBeSurprisedBeReady mantra. 

Rosario expects a lot out of himself. He’s his own biggest critic. This is why he’s going to be a terrific major league player one day. 

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

Tejada’s Time With the Mets Should Be Short

I’m sure Jedd Gyorko could be the answer to many questions. However, I’m fairly positive he’s not the answer to the question, “Who should be your starting shortstop?”

With the injury to Jhonny Peralta, Gyorko is the Cardinals starting shortstop. Unless the Cardinals make a move, Gyorko will be the shortstop for the next two to three months. Now, Gyorko was never anything more than an average second baseman which a career -1.5 UZR over his three year career. That doesn’t bode well for his chances to be a good to adequate shortstop. Like most, I’m assuming if any team can make it work, it’s the Cardinals. 

With that said, it’s a good time for the Mets to call the Cardinals. From all the reports this Spring, it appears that the Mets might be looking to move on from Ruben Tejada. It’s probably the right move too. 

Last year, Tejada had an impressive finish to the season. Although never mentioned as such, he was part of the reason why the Mets rallied to win the NL East. His gruesome injury in the NLDS was a rallying cry for the Mets and Mets fans throughout the postseason. However, he’s on the last year of his deal, and he’s an expensive backup eating up a spot on the 40 man roster. 

The Mets right now have absurd depth at the shortstop position. Asdrubal Cabrera is penciled in as the starter the next two years. Wilmer Flores grew into the role and handled the position very well when pressed into shortstop duty again in the postseason. Former second round pick Matt Reynolds is competing for a utility role in the majors. On top of that, the Mets have two big shortstop prospects in Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario. Long story short, the Mets don’t need shortstop depth. 

What they do need is 40 man roster space. So far, Jim Henderson is having a nice Spring and may be on the inside track to locking down a spot on the Opening Day bullpen. The Mets are talking about letting Kevin Plawecki start the year in AAA. This means, as of right now, Johnny Monell would open the year as the backup catcher. There’s a problem with Henderson and Monell making the Opening Day roster. 

Neither player is on the 40 man roster, and the Mets have no spots open. Even if the Mets placed Zack Wheeler on the 60 day DL, the Mets would still need to drop someone else from the 40 man roster to add both Henderson and Monell. This could be accomplished by trading Tejada. 

It seemed like Tejada turned a corner last year. Unfortunately, with one dirty play he is back on the bench, and frankly, occupying a roster spot the Mets need. It may not seem fair. It may seem cruel, but it’s time for the Mets too move on from Tejada. They should do it now with the Cardinals having a need, and the Mets wanting to maximize the return they would receive for Tejada.  

Editor’s Note: this article also appeared on metsmerizedonline.com

Super Matt Reynolds

Whenever a prospect is coming through the system or a young player makes his way to the majors, invariably there is a comparison made to an All Star caliber player. Very rarely do we see a comparison to a utility player or a grinder like Joe McEwing

With that said, if Matt Reynolds wants to be a part of this Mets team going forward, he will need to become this generation’s Super Joe. 

Right now, Reynolds path to the majors is blocked. At the major league level, the Mets have Asdrubal CabreraRuben Tejada, and Wilmer Flores provide extraordinary major league depth at the shortstop position. On the horizon, the Mets have two very well regarded shortstop prospects in Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario.  For what it’s worth, Rosario is likely ticketed to play shortstop in AA, and Cecchini will be the shortstop in AAA. In short (pun intended), Reynolds will never be the shortstop for the Mets. 

Even if he moves off of shortstop, his options are limited. He’s blocked at second by Dilson Herrera. Even if the younger Herrera were to falter, it’s much more likely that the Mets would turn to Cecchini or sign a free agent than Reynolds. Also, given his lack of power throughout the minors, it’s unlikely the Mets will turn to him go play third. No, Reynolds’ future, at least with the Mets, is as a utility player. 

For his part, Reynolds is willing to play all over the field just to make it to the majors.  He will play some outfield during Spring Training.  As Reynolds told Adam Rubin, he knows a position change is in order:

No one has talked to me about it, but I heard about it from press conferences and everything. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the big leagues. I figured that I’d probably be changing positions. Honestly, I just look at it as it makes me more versatile, and there’s more opportunity for me to get called up and maybe stay up there. 

Now, Joe McEwing was only a 28th round pick. When you are a 28th round pick, you are not seen as a prospect. You have to be ready, willing, and able to do whatever is necessary to get to the majors. It’s not only a talent issue. It’s a mindset. You have to show a lot of character and resiliency not only to make it to the majors, but also to stay there.

It was McEwing’s attitude and drive that helped him have a nine year career. It’s why Tony LaRussa requested a pair of autographed spikes from McEwing. He has the type of energy and drive that is infectious. It’s why he was a useful player. It’s why teams loved having him on the roster. It’s why he stays in the game as a major league coach and is a potential manager. 

Reynolds was a second round pick. Typically, second round picks are not seen as utility players.  As long as they produce, they usually have an easier path to the majors. With that said, it’s no guarantee. At some point, every player faces a turning point in their careers. For Matt Reynolds, that time is now. It’s time for him to embrace his future as a utility player. 

Seemingly, he’s doing that. If he meets this challenge with the same drive and enthusiasm that McEwing once did, Reynolds has a real future not just with the Mets, but in baseball. It’s quite possible Reynolds’ future with the Mets is this generation’s Joe McEwing. Right now, Reynolds seems ready to do what is necessary to get to that point. 

If he does, that means Reynolds will have a fine major league career. 

Cost of the Projected 2019 Starting Lineup

After the Mets make a decision at catcher, the team appears like they will have between $82 – $96 million to build a roster and re-sign their pitching

Looking at the roster, the Mets will need to obtain starters at the following positions: 1B, 2B, SS, and RF.  David Wright is scheduled to make $15 million, so whether or not you believe he will be able to stay at the position, he will remain with the team in some capacity. Michael Conforto should still be with the team as the leftfielder. Finally, unless the Mets can move him, Juan Lagares and his $9 million salary will be the team’s centerfielder. The Mets organization is fairly well stocked with position players right now, and they might be able to fill out the roster with cheap, cost-controlled talent. 

First Base

Somewhat controversely, Keith Law named Dominic Smith the 29th best prospect in all of baseball. He’s the first baseman of the future. 

Accordingly to the scouting reports, Smith is a good defensive first baseman that should be able to hit. The debate really is whether he will hit for power. Whether or not he hits for power, people see him as being able to field the position and be a good major league hitter. 

With Lucas Duda being a free agent in 2018, the Mets will need Smith to be ready. If he’s not ready, the Mets will need a stopgap. In either event, by the time the Mets pitchers start to become free agents, Smith should be the first baseman earning around $500,000. 

Second Base

We have to assume that one of these years Dilson Herrera is going to transition from second baseman of the future to the Mets second baseman. With Neil Walker only having one year until free agency, it appears that time will be 2017. 

Right now, Herrera has less than one year’s service time. For all the supposed newfound depth, it’ll probably be Matt Reynolds getting called up to the Mets. That will preserve his service time. It means that in 2019, Herrera should be the second baseman, and he will have accrued two full years service time.  Unless he gets enough playing time, it appears like he will avoid Super Two status meaning he will be in the same $500 –  $600 thousand range as Smith. 

Shortstop

As far as organizational depth, the Mets seemingly have an embarassment of riches with two high end shortstop prospects with Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario. They also have the aforementioned Reynolds. 

Given Asdrubal Cabrera‘s contract, Cecchini and Rosario are going to have time to develop on the minors. At a minimum, Cabrera is signed to be the Mets shortstop through the 2017 season. If he produces well, or the prospects need another year, Cabrera has an option that could keep him with the Mets through the 2018 season. 

As such, neither Cecchini or Rosario will be arbitration eligible at the time the Mets pitchers start to reach free agency. Accordingly, the Mets will only have to spend around $500 thousand when the pitchers begin to become free agents. 

Left Field

It seems Michael Conforto is the leftfielder of the past (2015), present, and future. He very well should be too. Even if Conforto doesn’t improve upon his 162 game averages he achieved as a 22 year old, who never played above AA, you’re getting a good defensive outfielder who will hit .270/.335/.506 with 26 homers and 75 RBI. 

Fortunately, Conforto will not have accrued enough service time to achieve Super Two status. Unfortunately, Conforto will most likely become arbitration eligible the same time that the Mets pitchers are reaching free agency. 

Looking over the past few years, there isn’t really a good comparable to Conforto. It seems that when teams have good young corner outfielders, they lock them up. With that in mind, although an admittedly imperfect comparison, J.D. Martinez is instructive. 

In 2014, Martinez was 26 years old, and he hit .325/.358/.553 with 23 homers and 76 RBI in 123 games.  He became arbitration eligible after this season, and he agreed to $3 million. In 2015, he had another good year hitting .282/.344/.535 with 38 homeruns and 102 RBI. He and the Tigers avoided an arbitration hearing.  Martinez’s contract extension bought out the remainder of his arbitration years  he’s due to make $6.75 million in 2016 and $11.75 million in 2017. 

While we may or may not agree on whether Martinez is a good comparable, it would be fair to say Conforto is at least capable of hitting .272/.344/.535 by his age 25 season, if not sooner. If that’s the case, it would be fair to suggest Conforto could earn anywhere from $3 – $6 million in his first year of eligibility. 

Right Field

Curtis Granderson‘s contract will expire after the 2017 season. Since he will be 37 heading into the 2018 season, it’s hard to imagine he will be re-signed to be the everyday right fielder. 

Now, Wuilmer Becerra projects to be an everyday player. Scouts believe he has the bat to play the corner outfield spot. The issue as far as the Mets are concerned is how quickly the 21 year old minor leaguer will need before fulfilling that promise. Last year, Becerra played his first year in full season A ball. That’s a long trek to the majors by 2019. 

So unless Brandon Nimmo can handle the corner outfield offensively, which unfortunately seems unlikely, the Mets will have to look outside the organization to fill that void. 

If Becerra is still a well regarded prospect, the Mets are likely to bring in a player on a one to two year deal. In retrospect, depending on how he finishes out his contract, Granderson could be coaxed back on a one-year deal ata much lower contract price. 

As a placeholder, let’s presume the cost of a right fielder would cost about $15 million. That’s what Granderson is slated to earn the last year of his contract. 

Cost of the Projected 2019 Starting Lineup

If everything breaks right for the Mets, they will have a group of young, cost-controlled position players at the time their starting pitchers hit the free agent market. If this pans out, the Mets everyday position players would cost about $46.5 million. 

That’s roughly what the Mets are paying their current starting infield. In total, the 2016 Mets starting lineup is due to be paid roughly $90 million. Essentially, the Mets will be spending half the amount of money on their starting lineup in 2019 than they will this season. 

Overall, this leaves the Mets between $35.5 – $49.5 million to build a bench, a bullpen, and to pay their starting rotation if the payroll remains stagnant at the $140 million range. 

Mets Have “40” Decisions to Make

As of today, the Mets 40 man roster is full with Erik Goeddel and David Wright on the 60 day DL. Since players on the 60 day DL do not count towards the 40 man roster, two players will have to be removed from the 40 man before Goeddel and Wright can be added.

The first decision could potentially come on August 11th, when Goeddel is first eligible to come off the DL. The Mets can send down Hansel Robles, who has options, but that only solves the 25 man roster issue. As of today, here are the people who are on the 40 man roster, who are also not on the 25 man roster:

  1. Dario Alvarez
  2. Vic Black
  3. Jack Leathersich
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Akeel Morris
  6. Logan Verrett
  7. Gabriel Ynoa
  8. Johnny Monell
  9. Anthony Recker
  10. Dilson Herrera
  11. Danny Muno
  12. Wilfredo Tovar
  13. Darrell Ceciliani
  14. Michael Cuddyer
  15. Kirk Nieuwenhuis

In deciding who to remove, there are a couple of important factors to take into account:

  1. This player will be exposed on waivers allowing any team to claim that player, and
  2. A player must be on the 40 man roster as of August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster (there are loopholes however).

Immediately, you can rule out the pitchers. They’re young, under control, and will be snatched up by another team . . . even Vic Black. That leaves eight players for two spots.

Next, we can eliminate Michael Cuddyer and Kirk Nieuwenhuis from consideration. Cuddyer is set to come off the DL soon. Nieuwenhuis is a possibility, albeit remote right now for the postseason roster. We’re done to six players.

I would next eliminate Dilson Herrera, who is seen as the second baseman of the future. This is especially important with Daniel MurphyKelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe set to be free agents. We’re down to five players: Monell, Recker, Muno, Tovar, and Ceciliani.  Here’s where things get tricky. You can make cases for all of these players to stay or go.

I’ll start with the catchers, who have been awful this year . . . absolutely terrible. I’m expecting the Mets to move on from both of these players in the offseason. However, we need to remember Travis d’Arnaud has been injury prone. You don’t want to him to go down and have no playoff replacement. At a a minimum, one catcher must stay on the roster. Possibly both.

Up next are the young middle infielders. Admittedly, they have both been pretty bad in very limited major league experience. Accordingly, you can’t use that experience as the sole reason to outright that player. It should be noted neither player is a top prospect in the Mets organization. I think both are candidates, specifically Tovar, who is behind Matt ReynoldsGavin Cecchini, and Amed Rosario on the organization’s SS depth chart.

Finally, we have Ceciliani, who played decently with the Mets this year (even if he was a little exposed). It should be noted he was passed over in the last two Rule Five Drafts.  I don’t imagine his limited playing time changed the minds of the other 29 teams.  Furthermore, with Nieuwenhuis being on the bubble for the postseason roster, there’s no chance he would even see the field. In my opinion, this makes him the most vulnerable.

Now, I have no connections whatsoever, but I would believe Ceciliani and Monell are the two players who will be moved to make room for Goeddel and Wright. You could easily interchange that for Recker and Ceciliani or one of the middle infielders.  However, I think Ceciliani and Monell are the two least  regarded players on this list.

Further complicating matters is Rafael Montero, who is also on the 60 day DL. Terry Collins recently went to talk to Montero to encourage him to ramp up his rehab so he can help the team.  If Montero is coming back, the Mets are going to have to make yet another roster move.  I believe at this time, the middle infielders would definitively be in danger of being removed from the 40 man roster.  My guess would be Tovar, but then again, I could be wrong.

The only way to avoid removing anyone, and risking losing a player, is to make a trade with another team.  The problem there is if these players had value to other teams, they would have been moved already.  Specifically to Ceciliani, we’ve seen teams pass on him a number of times.  There is also the possibility that the player to be named later in the Eric O’Flaherty deal is one of the aforementioned 15 players making part of this post moot.  However, I think that is unlikely.

Overall, the Mets have a lot of important decisions to make with an eye towards who they want on the postseason roster.  It’s fun to be a Mets fan again.