Corey Oswalt

Mets Blow Another Late Inning Lead

Through seven innings, the batters in this game might as well have gone up to the plate blindfolded and holding onto a broken tennis racket.  That was how good their chances were scoring a run against either Jacob deGrom or Julio Teheran, both of whom dominate the other team and allowed just four hits apiece tonight.  Really, their final lines were practically identical:

deGrom (ND) 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
Teheran (ND) 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, BB, 6 K

It wasn’t until the bullpens got involved that these offenses would wake up, and with the Mets being the away team, they were the ones who went off first.

Wilmer Flores drew a leadoff walk against Braves reliever Sam Freeman, and he moved to second on a Jose Reyes single.  For Reyes, despite him entering this game 0-20, he had a resurgent game reaching in his first three plate attempts going 3-4 with a run and a stolen base.

The pivotal moment of the inning, and at that time, the game was when Ozzie Albies just botched catching the throw in his haste to turn a double play on a Michael Conforto grounder.  While Reyes was initially ruled out, Mickey Callaway challenged the call, and Reyes was ruled safe.

As an aside, it was the second successful challenge for the Mets on the day.  The other was just as important on what was initially ruled an Ender Inciarte stolen base of third with no outs in the sixth:

Todd Frazier‘s holding on the tag kept the game scoreless, and it helped allow this game remain scoreless into the eighth.

With the bases loaded and no outs, this was the spot where you assumed Yoenis Cespedes would come through.  Even with his recent struggles, and his batting .195 on the season, he’s still gotten the clutch hits, and he is still hitting with the bases loaded.  Except for tonight.  He hit a shallow fly to Nick Markakis, and with Flores on third, there was no way he was going to tag up and score on that.  With Cespedes’ failure to deliver, it put the rally in jeopardy.

That was until Asdrubal Cabrera came up and hit a clutch two run RBI single to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.  Jay Bruce followed with an RBI single, and he hustled to second on an Inciarte fielding error.

Eventually, Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked, and Jose Lobaton hit a sinking line drive which Preston Tucker almost misplayed.  Instead he made a sliding catch getting the Braves out of the inning down 3-0.

With his performance yesterday, you thought this would be enough for AJ Ramos to lock down.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see that Ramos tonight.

No, we saw the Ramos who has troubles maintaining the strike zone.  He’d bookend an Inciarte strikeout with walks to Ryan Flaherty and Albies.  With Mets killer Freddie Freeman coming up, Callaway understandably went to his lone lefty Jerry Blevins.

Much like how he performed on the season, Blevins failed to get the exact guy he was brought into the game to get.  Freeman hit a two RBI double to pull the Braves within one.

Blevins would strike out Markakis, but the damage was done.  It was done not just because the Braves plated two runs, but because Blevins failure to get both left-handed batters, but also Ramos’ ineffectiveness, Jeurys Familia needed to come into the game to get the last out of the eighth.

Going multiple innings like this was something that was once old hat for Familia, and with him doing it already two times this season, the hope was he could do it tonight.  He didn’t.

It started with a leadoff walk to Dansby Swanson, who scored the game tying run on a Johan Camargo (yes, the very same one) triple.

The Mets got a bit of a break with Kurt Suzuki lining a ball off of Frazier’s glove.  Suzuki reached first safely, but Camargo wouldn’t score on the play.  It seemed things were turning back towards the Mets direction as Charlie Culberson struck out, which at least created the possibility the Mets could get out of the inning with double play.  That didn’t happen because, as Gary Cohen predicted may happen, Inciarte dropped down the drag bunt:


With that bunt, the Mets lost the game 4-3.  More than that, the Mets blew a great start from deGrom.  More than anything, this is the second time this week, the Mets bullpen has lost a game against a division rival.  It is still too early to begin worrying about these sorts of things, but it is never to be soon to be aware of what issues it could raise for the Mets down the road.

Game Notes: Before the game, it was announced Matt Harvey was moving to the bullpen.  Joining him there was Corey OswaltGerson Bautista was sent down to make room for Oswalt.

Give Harvey One More Start, Just One, And Not With Lobaton

Last night, Matt Harvey had another low moment in his Mets career.  Really after Terry Collins went to the mound in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, it has been nothing but low moments for Harvey.  He’s was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, forever complained about his mechanics, and he had stress reactions from being rushed back to the rotation.

Now, this was supposed to be the year Harvey turned it around.  He had Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland there to help get him back on track.  He is also a pending free agent, and the assumption always is Scott Boras free agents always have their best years in their contract walk years.

In his first start of the season, there was a real glimmer of hope.  In five innings, Harvey limited what is a pretty decent Phillies lineup to one hit over five scoreless innings while striking out five and walking one.  He focused more on locating than blowing it by batters.  Really, this is what everyone agrees Harvey needs to be now, and he looked great doing it.

Since then, he hasn’t been quite as good.  Against the Nationals, he fooled no one allowing four runs on nine hits and one walk in five innings, and he only struck out two.  That said, Harvey did keep the Mets in the game.  That’s something he has failed to do in his two subsequent starts.

The worst of which being last night with the Braves tattooing Harvey in two separate innings to score six runs.

Even with that, if you wanted to find a silver lining, it was there for you as Harvey retired 11 of the last 12 Braves he faced.  After the adversity of the first and third innings, he didn’t meldown.  He refocused, and he at least got the Mets through the sixth inning. If you wanted to justify giving him another start, you had it right there.

As it stands anyway, it does not seem like Jason Vargas is going to be ready in five days.  Corey Oswalt was held out of his last start with an illness meaning he’s no longer lined up for Harvey’s next start, and it’s not likely Chris Flexen is going to be lined up for Harvey’s next start either.

With the Mets in the midst of 10 straight games without an off day, and the team playing 15 games over the next 16 days, including stops at Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Diego, they should avoid using Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo for a spot start.  The bullpen has issues of its own with the team twice needing to go into the minors to get a fresh arm, and after Gerson Bautista‘s performance last night, they may need to do it again.  The bullpen issues need not be exacerbated for the sake of one start.

Really, all signs indicate Harvey should probably get just one more start.  However, if that does happen Jose Lobaton cannot be the one who catches him.

In the two starts they have been paired, Harvey has an 8.18 ERA and batters are hitting .348/.367/.630 off of him.  Contrast that to the 3.60 ERA and .250/.302/.375 batting line opposing batters have off of him when d’Arnaud caught him.

Maybe it’s just the reflection of small sample sizes.  Maybe its’ the difference in opponents.  Maybe Harvey doesn’t jive well with Lobaton, or maybe Harvey needs a good pitch framer to get those borderline strikes to ensure he doesn’t have to pitch closer to the strike and hitting zone.

Whatever the case, we’ve seen a glimmer of hope with Harvey.  The team needs one more start out of him before Vargas returns.  You’ve invested so much into him the past few seasons.  Give him one last chance with the best chance to succeed with Tomas Nido behind the plate.

If that doesn’t work, you can honestly say you’ve tried all you can do, and it’s time to discuss bullpen, minors, or releasing him.  But before you do that, just give him one last start with every chance for him to succeed.

Trivia Friday: Mets Major League Debuts

This year, we have seen the Mets dip down into the minors and call-up a player for the first time in their baseball career.  The first time was Corey Oswalt, who was so tantalizingly close to getting into a game and making his debut, but alas, it was not meant to be.

So Oswalt would not be the first Mets rookie to make his Major League debut this year.  That honor would go to another pitcher.  Can you name him?  Can you name the other Mets to do so this decade?  Good luck!


Gerson Bautista Tyler Pill Ty Kelly Daniel Muno Eric Campbell Scott Rice Kirk Nieuwenhuis Brad Emaus Ruben Tejada

Callaway May Be Overworking The Mets Bullpen

After an epic eighth inning bullpen meltdown against the Washington Nationals, the fans and media began the process of second guessing Mets manager Mickey Callaway. With that the central question was why Callaway went to Seth Lugo instead of allowing Jacob deGrom to face Howie Kendrick, who deGrom has completely dominated both that night and over the course of his career.

As we know, Lugo did the inexcuable and walked Kendrick on four pitches. This led to Jerry Blevins, AJ Ramos, and Jeurys Familia not getting the job done. With the exception of Blevins, there were ensuing questions about how each reliever was used in that inning.

These questions are interesting for debate, but they are missing the larger issue here. In his brief managerial career, Callaway has ridden the bullpen too hard for this team to have sustained success over the course of a 162 game schedule.

There are a number of caveats many people will cite. There have been a number of off days. The Mets pitchers aren’t going deep enough into games thereby forcing Callaway’s hand. The bullpen can’t possibly be overworked because they have pitched just the 17th more innings in the majors.

Here are some other key stats to consider. There are 15 pitchers in baseball who have made double digit appearances this season. The Mets have three of those pitchers with Familia, Ramos, and Blevins. By the way, they were also the three pitchers who failed to get the job done that fateful eighth inning.

By the way, the Mets are the only team to have three relievers make double digit appearances, and that number will grow to four when Robert Gsellman, who has scuffled a bit of late, makes his next appearance.

We tend to over-focus just on the number of appearances, innings, and pitches relievers throw. Them getting up to warm up also counts. It is part of the fatigue which can set in for a reliever.

At this point, we can not be definitively sure any of the Mets relievers are gassed even with the recent drop-off. Really, that can be explained by regression to the mean or just a fluke small sample size.

Here’s what we do know. For most of this season, Callaway has had a bullpen with an extra arm in it. Despite that, the Mets have had to make roster moves on two separate occasions to get a fresh arm into the bullpen. First, it was Corey Oswalt for a day. Now, it’s Gerson Bautista for who knows how long?

The answer to that one may just be up until he gets gassed and the Mets need to go back to the minors to pull up Hansel Robles or Jacob Rhame again. Maybe this time, it’s Tyler Bashlor who comes up to the majors straight from Double-A.

Point is, the way Callaway is using this bullpen is having an effect, and it is causing the Mets to need to dip into their minor league depth to get fresh arms into this bullpen. Maybe this was the plan all along, and that plan is buttressed by Sandy Alderson’s moves at the trade deadline last year. Probably not.

Whatever the case, the Mets are going to have to figure something out because this cannot continue for 162 games.

Cabrera Homers Part of Mets Refusal to Lose

You know you have a good team when they bring it every day no matter what the circumstances.  You know you have a great team when they always respond to adversity.  They respond to a tough inning in the field with a good at-bat.  When the opponent takes they lead, they come right back and tie the score.

Tonight was just the latest in seeing how this Mets team can be great.

In the first, Wilmer Flores doubled off Caleb Smith to score Michael Conforto, who led the game off with a double.  In the fourth, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a monster home run:

In the fifth, Amed Rosario hit a double, and Conforto singled him home to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.  With Jacob deGrom cruising, it seemed like this was going to be an easy game for the Mets.

Unfortunately, the fifth would prove to be an ugly inning for the Mets.  It started with a Yadiel Rivera grounder to third, which probably should’ve been called foul and Mickey Callaway should’ve challenged but didn’t.  We’d later see Todd Frazier deflect a ball he should’ve let go to Rosario, which led to the Marlins first run of the game.

The second run was scored on a Starlin Castro sacrifice fly.  On the play, Conforto completely missed the cutoff man allowing Rojas to go to second.  Justin Bour, who had a big night against the Mets, then homered to give the Marlins a 4-3 lead.

Where some teams would be shell-shocked, the Mets immediately responded with a Frazier double.  He’d then get aggressive on the bases tagging up on a Cabrera fly ball to left field and beating Derek Dietrich‘s throw.  After a Kevin Plawecki walk, this put him in position to score on the ensuing Juan Lagares sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4.

Surprisingly, given how Callaway has handled the pitching staff, deGrom came out to pitch a scoreless sixth.  He’d get a no decision, and his final line was 6.0 innings, seven hits, four runs, four earned, one walk, and six strikeouts.  Not a great start, but he did put his team in position to win the game.  With better umpiring and some better defense, that line would have looked much better.

In the seventh, Jacob Rhame came into the game, and he just didn’t have it.  The one none sacrifice out he got was a deep fly ball to center that probably would have gone for extra bases had it been someone other than Lagares out there.  Rhame did have a chance to get out of the inning, but he made a mistake on the first pitch to Bour.  Bour launched his second homer of the night giving the Marlins the lead against at 6-4.

Paul Sewald in just his second appearance of the year got the final out of the inning allowing the Mets a chance to comeback and tie the score.

Given how this Mets team has played so far this year, it should come as no surprise they did actually tie the score in the top of the eighth.  Flores and Cabrera would both homer off Kyle Barraclough.

In the bottom of the inning, Hansel Robles and the Mets dodged a bullet as Bryan Holaday just missed a homer.  Everyone but Robles, who probably wasn’t pointing up, thought that was out.  Where many expected Robles to melt down, he bore down.  He got out of the inning highlighted by punch out of Rojas to end the inning.

As a bad Marlins team will learn many times this year, you don’t give a good team like the Mets this many chances.

Brian Anderson threw a ball away allowing Rosario to reach safely instead of the Marlins recording the second out of the inning.  Brad Ziegler followed the error by walking Conforto to put the game in Yoenis Cespedes‘ hands.  Even with Cespedes being on a 1-20 cold streak, he still had the magic to deliver a two RBI double to give the Mets an 8-6 lead.

The two run lead was more than enough for the resurgent Jeurys Familia to close it out.

Ultimately, the Mets won this game because they are resilient.  They won because Cabrera hit two huge homers.  They won because they are embodying the spirit of Frazier who responds to every negative play with a positive one.  They won because they’re a great team.

In fact, at the moment, you can argue they’re the greatest team in Mets history because they now have the best start to a season in Mets history with them standing with the best record in baseball at 9-1.

Game Notes: Before the game, Brandon Nimmo was sent down to Vegas to make room on the roster for Corey Oswalt.  Oswalt was called up due to how taxed the bullpen has been early in the season.

Five Prospects To Watch This Spring Training

The one thing that is interesting about Spring Training is you never know which prospect is going to make a name for themselves.  Personally, the one that always comes to mind is Dillon Gee having good Spring Training causing then Mets manager Jerry Manuel to take notice.  With that, Gee had an important champion in the Mets organization, and when the opportunity finally presented itself, Gee would get a call-up to the majors despite struggling in Triple-A with an injured shoulder.  From there, Gee has put together a nice MLB career.

This Spring Training, there are a number of Mets pitchers who will now have the opportunity to impress new manager Mickey Callaway.  Aside from the big names like Dominic Smith, here are five names to keep an eye on during this Spring Training:

RHP Tyler Bashlor

MMN Rank: 14

Bashlor was added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft because he has great stuff highlighted by an upper 90’s fastball.  He combines that pitch with a sharp curve which has led to the flamethrower putting up big strikeout numbers in the minors.  His stuff was a big reason why he quickly went from closing in St. Lucie to closing for a Binghamton Rumble Ponies team who was fighting for a postseason berth.

If there’s any issue with Bashlor, it’s the walks.  In his career, he’s walked 5.0 batters per nine, and he walked 5.4 batters per nine in 34 appearances for St. Lucie.  Those are unsustainable numbers.

Still, he has immense talent which could one day lead to him closing for the Mets one day.  Before we get to that point, he has an opportunity to work with Callaway, Dave Eiland, and Triple-A pitching coach Mickey Abbott to help him eliminate the walks.  If he does, he’s going to contribute at the Major League level next year.

LHP P.J. Conlon

MMN Rank: 24

For the second straight Spring, Conlon finds himself as a non-roster invitee with a an outside chance to make the Opening Day bullpen as a left-handed reliever.  Certainly, Conlon has earned the chance as he knows how to get batters out, especially left-handed batters.

Last year, he limited left-handed batters to a .252/.273/.358 batting line, and in 2016, he was even stingier limiting them to a .216/.267/.288 batting line.  Conlon does this because he located well, and he has a great change-up.

However, with his topping out in the 80s, it appears the Mets have their doubts about Conlon’s viability as a Major League starter.  In Spring, Conlon is both going to get the chance to prove his stuff will work in the Majors similar to what we have seen with Jamie Moyer and Bartolo Colon.  More than that, he’s going to get a chance to show he belongs in the Majors right now to fill a now vacant second left-handed reliever spot in the bullpen.

RHP Corey Oswalt

MMN Rank: 12

Oswalt is coming off an outstanding year in Binghamton, and as a result, he was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.  Oswalt did this because he was able to locate all four pitches, and he has shown the ability to throw his fastball in the mid 90s. While all of the Double-A took notice of Oswalt, the Mets did as well adding the starter to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

It is no secret the Mets have health issues with their starters.  Over the past two seasons, almost every Mets starter currently on the 40 man roster has had injuries requiring DL stints lasting more than half a season, requiring surgery, or both.  As of the moment, the Mets have not added another starter to the roster, which has created an opportunity to show he should be at the front of the line when the Mets inevitably need another starter.

2B Luis Guillorme

MMN Rank: 10

Right now, the Mets have a trio of injury prone second baseman in Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, and Wilmer Flores.  If one or any of the three go down with injury, there will be an opportunity for Guillorme, who is arguably the best defensive middle infielder in the Mets organization.

At the moment, we know he’s a great fielder.  The question mark on him is whether he can hit enough to play in the Majors.  To that end, early indications are Guillorme has increased his launch angle.  If true, and the transformation is a successful one, Guillorme’s career will transform to not if he can be the Mets second baseman of the future, but when he will be the Mets second baseman.  Given the aforementioned injury histories, he may get his chance next year.

C Patrick Mazeika

MMN Rank: 28

With Tomas Nido‘s BABIP normalizing, he had a disappointing year at the plate for Binghamton last year.  While the Mets are understandably high on him due to his defensive skills, Nido’s struggles do present an opportunity for another catcher to distinguish himself.

Essentially, Mazeika is everything Nido isn’t.  In his career, Mazeika has shown himself to be a good hitter, who is quite adept at getting on base.  What is interesting with him is he has shown glimpses of power; however, it should be noted those flashes have mostly come when he is filling in at first base for extended stretches.

What remains at issue is his defensive abilities.  It is an area where the 6’3″ catcher continues to make strides, but ultimately, the question is whether he is progressing quickly enough.  With him being a non-roster invite to Spring Training, he is going to get the benefit of getting in work with Major League coaches like Glenn Sherlock, which could help him make the adjustments necessary to take the next step in his career.

Ultimately, if the Mets coaching staff sees what they like with him, he may soon find himself in the Major League mix at catcher.  Having watched Travis d’Arnaud‘s injuries the past few years as well as Kevin Plawecki having mostly struggled in the Majors, his chance may come sooner than expected.

Overall, the Mets have a number of Minor Leaguers who are going to get a chance to go out there and show the Mets why they should be an important part of the future.  In the end, it is up to them to emulate Dillon Gee and make the most of this opportunity.  If they do, we may see them in Queens sooner than anticipated.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMN

Mets Pitchers Report Today, Are Better Than Advertised

It is quite fitting that today is unseasonably warm because we have the first sign of Spring with the Mets pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Spring Training.  No matter what your opinion on the Mets offseason, this time of year always brings a bit of hope for the fanbase because seeing the Mets players in uniform, you can begin to dream the players can put it all together and win the World Series.

For the Mets, like it has since 2015, the entire hope surrounds the starting pitching.

Now, there are people who are claiming there isn’t enough.  They still want the Mets to go out and sign Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, or any number of a group of free agent starters who didn’t compile 200 innings, were coming off injuries themselves, or really just couldn’t even sniff this Mets rotation when healthy.  In fact, you could argue with their recent injury histories and peripherals, Lynn and Cobb are just more of the same. Actually, what the Mets have is just better.

That’s part of the reason why the narrative the Mets did nothing to address their franchise worst pitching needs to end right now.

The first move the Mets had made this offseason to address the pitching was to go out and hire Mickey Callaway.  If you are going to be a pitching staff built on pitching, Callaway was the inspired choice.  Joining him on his pitching staff is Dave Eiland, who is renown for his ability to work with pitchers.  One of his keys to success is how he helps pitchers with their mechanics, which in turn, helps reduce injury.

Speaking of injuries, gone is favorite punching bag Ray Ramirez.  In his place is Jim Cavallini, who will oversee everything related to player care and conditioning.  This includes nutrition, sleep science, injury prevention, and rehabilitation.  Apparently, after all these years of injuries, the Mets are finally interested in getting players to eat better, sleep better, and take better care of themselves.

And yes, we know even with that Zack Wheeler needed osteoarthritis injections this offseason.  Matt Harvey has not been able to stay healthy since that magical 2013 season.  Steven Matz has continued to suffer one injury after another.  Technically speaking, Seth Lugo is pitching with a torn UCL much like the Yankees have seen with Masahiro Tanaka.

Yes, these injuries and injury histories exist, but as noted, the Mets finally have the people in place to not only help prevent those injuries from happening again, but also to get Harvey, Wheeler, and Matz back to form.  If they are, watch out because this is a pitching staff that can once again lead the Mets to the World Series.

If not?  Well, there’s real pitching depth in the Mets organization.  As noted above, there’s Lugo.  The team also have Robert Gsellman and Chris Flexen.  Yes, they both struggled last season, but they have an opportunity to learn from those struggles.  They also have the support system with Eiland, Callaway, and Mickey Abbott in Las Vegas.

Behind them are some intriguing prospects in Triple-A.  Corey Oswalt was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.  P.J. Conlon continues to defy the odds with his under 90 MPH stuff to pitch to a minor league career 2.35 ERA.  Marcos Molina is healthy after Tommy John, and he looks to build off a strong season.  Mickey Jannis is a late blooming knucke ball pitcher much in the same vein as R.A. Dickey.  And if you want to get deeper, Ricky Knapp rejuvenated himself after struggling in Vegas by pitching completely lights out as he helped pitch the Rumble Ponies to the Eastern League playoffs.

And if you are masochistic, this could finally be the year for Rafael Montero.

Point is, unlike last year, the Mets have actual starting pitching depth to start the season.  If one goes down, there’s two or three behind them to pick up the slack.  The team has a manager and pitching coach better suited to getting these pitchers to reaching their full potential.

Sure, it would be nice to see the Mets add a pitcher or two on a minor league deal to serve as a swing man, but even if the Mets don’t make that move, they have the depth they need in the organization.  Today is the day that group gets in peak physical shape and realizes their full potential.

And if you have a hard time believing me, sit down, take a deep breath, and remember the first two games of the season will have Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard starting for the Mets.  If you can’t get excited about that, nothing will.

What The 2018 Mets Roster Looks Like Right Now

It is a slow going offseason, but it seems even slower for the Mets.  With so many teams with more money than the Mets still interested in many of the same free agents, it is hard to believe the Mets will make significant additions before the end of the offseason.  If they don’t, here is what the 2018 Mets Opening Day roster will look like:

C – Travis d’Arnaud
1B – Dominic Smith
2B – Wilmer Flores
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Yoenis Cespedes
CF – Juan Lagares
RF – Michael Conforto
Bench – Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Phillip Evans

Rotation – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler
Bullpen – Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Seth Lugo

This should only highlight about how much work the Mets actually have to do this offseason.

Sure, we can buy the pitching staff as a whole as is because they have viable depth.  In the rotation, Lugo could get transition back much like how he did in 2016.  After that, they have Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, Corey Oswalt, and Mickey Jannis.  And that is before the Mets go deeper with pitchers like P.J. Conlon.  Suffice it to say, the Mets do have sufficient rotation depth.

Considering many of the aforementioned pitchers could go to the bullpen, the bullpen also has sufficient depth.  And behind them, the Mets also have David Roseboom, Chase Bradford, and Josh Smoker.

However, that offense.  You can’t sell anyone that is going to be alright.  Mostly, that is because the Mets don’t believe themselves that it will be.  And that is before you take into account the injury issues Conforto and Rivera are currently rehabbing from this offseason.

For example, the team has all but given up on Gavin Cecchini, who should be in a position to at least compete for a spot on the 25 man roster.  He won’t.  What’s scary is there is no real Major League ready talent behind him . . . at least no immediately as players like Luis Guillorme and David Thompson need at least some time in Triple-A.  By the way, there’s no real outfield depth in this system.

Looking over this roster, you’d be hard pressed to believe the Mets will be better than the 70-92 team they were last season no matter how much they sell us Mickey Callaway as the solution to all that ails the Mets.

So, it really should not come as a surprise to no one the Mets have a lot of work to do, and it goes well beyond just adding one or two players.  That applies just to the starting lineup.  After that, they really need to build a Major League caliber bench.

Again, the good news is there are still many free agents available.  However, it’s still hard to believe the Mets will be able to add the players they need to become a postseason contender.

Who The Mets Should Protect From The Rule 5 Draft

Tonight at 8:00 P.M. is the deadline for the Mets to add players to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.  At the moment, the Mets 40 man roster stands at 35, which means the team could add as many as five eligible players to the roster.

Typically speaking, the Mets won’t go that far for a few reasons.  First, the team will need to add players this offseason to help bolster a team desperately in need at some key positions.  Second, the team may want to keep some spots open so they could add a player or two during this year’s Rule 5 draft.  Considering there are some teams facing a roster crunch, there may very well be some intriguing names that become available.

For the moment, let’s assume the Mets will add five players with the team likely considering DFAing a couple of names already on the 40 man roster.  If the Mets have that ability, here are the players I believe the Mets should add to the roster.

RHP Tyler Bashlor
Age: 24
Level: St. Lucie & Binghamton
Stats: 3-2, 3.44 ERA, 46 G, 13 SV, 49.2 IP, 84 K, 1.309 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 15.2 K/9

Bashlor is a power arm who can routinely get it into the high 90s.  This along with his curveball is a reason why he gets huge strikeout numbers.  The problem with him is he walks too many batters.  It’s been a problem his entire minor league career.  To that point, there is one caveat.  In the small sample size he worked with Glenn Abbott in Binghamton, he only walked 2.5 batters per nine, which is a much more manageable number.  If he can keep that up, he’s a shut down reliever who could very well be a future closer for the Mets.

RHP Gerson Bautista
Age: 22
Level: Carolina League & St. Lucie
Stats: 3-3, 4.22 ERA, 37 G, 9 SV, 59.2 IP, 73 K, 1.592 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, 11.0 K/9

Bautista was the crown jewel of the Addison Reed trade.  The reliever has immense talent with the ability to get up to triple digits on the radar gun.  What is really interesting with him is that once he became a Met, he was finally able to harness his abilities.  In 10 appearances with St. Lucie, he had a 1.88 ERA, 0.907 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, and a 12.6 K/9.  If he is truly that pitcher, he has an outside chance to pitch in Queens in 2018.

MI Luis Guillorme
Age: 23
Level: Binghamton
Stats: .283/.376/.331, 20 2B, HR, 43 RBI, 4 SB, 3 CS

Guillorme is a throwback player who is a highlight reel at second or short.  At the moment, he’s more than ready to contribute defensively at the Major League level.  Offensively, Guillorme finds his way on base, and he’s a smart baserunner.  He’s also aware that he needs to begin hitting for more power, and he has set out to do that.  Given his work ethic, it shouldn’t be ruled out he will hit for enough power where he may one day be a top of the lineup hitter.

RHP Corey Oswalt
Age: 24
Level: Binghamton
Stats: 12-5, 2.28 ERA, 24 G, 24 GS, 2 CG, SHO, 134.1 IP, 119 K, 1.176 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.0 K/9

Oswalt was not only the best pitcher in the Mets organization this past season winning a Sterling Award, he was also the best pitcher in the Eastern League as evidenced by his being named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.  He’s a four pitch starter who may not dominate opposing batters, but he knows how to get people out.  Given the rash of injuries the Mets have faced in their starting rotation in successive seasons, this is something that should not be overlooked, and the Mets certainly should not risk a chance of losing him.

RHP Adonis Uceta
Age: 23
Level: Columbia, St. Lucie, Binghamton
Stats: 6-0, 1.51 ERA, 41 G, 14 SV, 59.2 IP, 67 K, 0.905 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 10.1 K/9

The Mets converted this former starter to a reliever, and he took off this season.  With him mainly focusing on his two best pitches, a mid to high 90s fastball and an outstanding changeup, Uceta dominated opposing batters.  For a three month stretch, he did not allow one earned run while oppositing batters hit .133/.198/.158 off of him.  It’s a big reason why he quickly rose through the farm system last year, and it’s a big reason why he could contribute in the Mets bullpen next season.

Overall, it’s unlikely the Mets protect as many as five players, and it’s equally unlikely the team protects three relief pitchers.  To that end, it’s really a debate over who to protect.  Do you protect Bashlor and Uceta, who could reasonably contribute in the bullpen next year?   Or maybe, you protect just one of them to make sure you keep Bautista who is likely the best arm of the three.  It’s not the easiest decision in the world, but it is one that Alderson now faces.

Hopefully, no matter what decision he makes, we won’t be revisiting this one like we have revisited the Jeff WaltersMatthew Bowman decision.

Tebow and Cecchini Headline Mets Arizona Fall League Players

The Arizona Fall League is a showcase league where Major League teams have the opportunity to not only allow some of their prospects to refine their skills, but also to play in front of other team’s front office personnel. There are six teams total and teams play a 30 game schedule. Here is an in-depth look at who the Mets have assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions:

Tom Goodwin

Goodwin has been the Mets first base coach since the 2012 season. Goodwin is also responsible for the Mets outfielders and base running instruction.

Goodwin was named as the Scottsdale Scorpions manager leading a team comprised of Mets, Angels, Giants, Phillies, and Yankees minor leaguers.

Gavin Cecchini

The 22-year old Cecchini was the Mets 2012 First Round draft pick and is Mets Minors sixth ranked Mets prospect.

Cecchini was recently added to the Mets 40 man roster, and he was a September call-up.

With the emergence of Amed Rosario, Asdrubal Cabrera having another year on his contract, and Cecchini having defensive issues at shortstop, Cecchini started the transition to second base late in the AAA season. Presumably, Cecchini should see the bulk of his playing time at second base at the Arizona Fall League.

At the plate, Cecchini is a gap-to-gap line drive hitter who has steadily improved and hit for more power at each stop of his minor league career. Last season, his first season in AAA, Cecchini hit .325/.390/.448 with 27 doubles, two triples, eight homers, and 55 RBI.

In his brief playing time with the Mets, we saw a player who was ready to hit major league pitching with the ability to drive the ball into the gap. As he ages and continues to fill-out some of his doubles may eventually turn into home runs.

Marcos Molina

The 21-year old Molina was signed by the Mets in 2011 as a 17 year old international free agent out of the Dominican Republic. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Molina will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

When Molina takes the mound for the Scorpions, he will be throwing his first pitch in the 2016 season. After a rough start to the 2015 season, which was in part due to a torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Molina initially tried rest to deal with the injury. However, after three ill-fated and ill-advised outings in August, he would be shut down for the season, and he would undergo Tommy John surgery on October 31st.

Like with any pitcher returning from Tommy John, it is difficult to ascertain what he will be when he finally takes the mound. Prior to his injury, Molina was a pitcher with poor mechanics, which may or may not have attributed to his injury.

When healthy, he had a mid 90’s fastball with an advanced changeup and slider for his age. As noted, his mechanics are still raw, and a result, he has a tendency to change his arm angles on each pitch, which would obviously telegraph the pitch to more experienced hitters.

In his last healthy, season, he dominated in the New York Penn League making 12 starts going 7-3 with a 1.77 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9. For a comparison, he had the type of year Harol Gonzalez had this year with similar stuff at a similar age. However, Gonzalez doesn’t have the mechanical issues Molina did.

Matt Oberste

The 25 year old Oberste was the Mets 2013 seventh round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Oberste will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Oberste is coming off a mediocre season for AA Binghamton. While he had appeared to make strides offensively and defensively last year in St. Lucie, he seemed to regress this season in both aspects. In the field, he does not have the range or the arm for third base. With that in mind, he is best suited for first base, where he has shown himself to be an adequate defender. The main issue there is Oberste does not have the bat to play first base.

In his four year professional career, Oberste has not hit for power as evidenced by his career .399 slugging percentage. While he has averaged 22 doubles over the past three years, he has yet to hit double digit homers. Oberste’s bat could justifiably play in the majors at second or a utility position. However, Oberste hasn’t shown the range to prove he could effectively handle either role.

On the bright side, Oberste did have a strong finish to his 2016 campaign. Over July and August, Oberste hit .305/.376/.455 with six doubles, two triples, five homers, and 28 RBI. Overall, Oberste hit .283/.340/.409 with 21 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 54 RBI for the 2016 season. Obviously, he did most of his damage in July and August. He needs to carry forward what he did those two months into the Arizona Fall League and beyond.

Tomas Nido

Unlike the other Mets prospect, Nido is a taxi squad player meaning he is only available to play on Wednesday and Saturday. The 22-year old Nido was the Mets 2012 eighth round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Nido will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

No one made a bigger leap in the Mets organization this season than Nido. When drafted, Nido was seen as a good defensive catcher with a strong arm. While he was seen as a player with some offensive promise with some power, that did not prove to be true in his first four major league seasons.

This year Nido put the full package together winning the Florida State League batting title. In 90 games, Nido hit .320/.357/.459 with 23 doubles, two triples, seven homers, and 46 RBI. Behind the plate, he continued to be a good receiver who threw out 42% of base stealers. Nido has a bright future ahead of him, and he appears to be the catcher of the future.

Corey Oswalt

The 23-year old Oswalt was the Mets 2012 7th round draft pick. If he is not added to the 40-man roster, Oswalt will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Oswalt is a right-handed pitcher that once projected to be back-end rotation starter. However, Oswalt is being hampered by his mechanics and his inability to repeat his delivery. He was also hampered by his needing knee surgery back in 2013 which has slowed the former high school pitcher’s development. Another issue is Oswalt still has not developed his slider of changeup to the point where they can be an effective pitch for him.

Mostly, Oswalt relies upon a low 90s four-seam fastball and a high 80s two-seam fastball. With him mostly relying on those pitches, he made 13 starts and one relief appearance for St. Lucie going 4-2 with a 4.12 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. If Oswalt is unable to develop his other pitches, he may be best suited to moving to the bullpen to see how well he could pitch putting maximum effort on his fastballs for an inning or two.

David Roseboom

The 24-year old Roseboom was the Mets 2014 17th round draft pick. He was named Mets Minors Reliever of the Year.

The collegiate starter was immediately made a bullpen arm by the Mets organization despite his low 90s fastball. However, Roseboom was able to make a name for himself this season by not only combining that fastball with an effective slider and changeup, but also trust his stuff and pounding the strike zone.

Given his success, trades, and promotions, Roseboom found himself as the Binghamton Mets closer. As the B-Mets closer, Roseboom made 26 appearances converting 14 out of 15 saves. In that stretch, Roseboom had a 0.92 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. Batters were only hitting .110 off of him. All season long, he showed the ability to get both righties and lefties out with righties hitting .189 off of him and lefties hitting .141 off of him. Ultimately, he is a platoon neutral left-hander who has the ability to pitch in high pressure and high leverage situations.

Champ Stuart

The 23-year old Stuart was the Mets 2013 sixth round draft pick. Another player that has to be added to the 40 this offseason to protect from the Rule 5 draft.

Stuart is an elite defensive outfielder that has speed on the bases as evidenced by him stealing 40 this season. The issue with Stuart is that he is a maddening offensive player. He went from hitting .265/.347/.407 in 71 games for Advanced A St. Lucie to hitting .201/.264/.261 in 43 games for AA Binghamton.

While Stuart has tremendous speed, he has not been able to use that speed to get extra base hits. This was the first season he has ever had double digit doubles, and he only had 12. While he has speed, he is still unable to take full advantage of it as he doesn’t hit the ball hard enough to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Ultimately, while the Mets should be fully willing to see how far Stuart’s speed and glove will carry him, if he does not start hitting, he may never make it to the major leagues.

Corey Taylor

Taylor was the Mets 2015 17th round draft pick.

Taylor was a dominant collegiate reliever, and he has proven to be a dominant reliever in the low levels of the minor leagues. Taylor does it with a low 90s fastball and a still developing slider. Basically, he is your prototype of what you think is a Mets pitcher. While he has been working to develop a changeup, it is not yet at the point where it is a reliable pitch for him in games.

Taylor is successful because he uses his fastball to generate an almost inordinate amount of groundballs. In his minor league career, he has a 1.92 ground ball out to fly ball out ratio. Taylor used this pitch to help him have a successful season as the St. Lucie Mets closer. In 45 games, Taylor converted 20 out of 23 save opportunities. Overall, Taylor was 4-5 with a 1.87 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.

Tim Tebow

As many people know, Tebow was signed by the Mets after he put on a showcase for major league teams. At the showcase, the one skill Tebow showed more than anything else was he had natural power. Everyone saw that power in effect when he hit a home run in his first ever professional at-bat in the Instructional Leagues.

Both Tebow’s proponents and detractors will say he is in the Arizona Fall League to boost attendance and revenues for the Arizona Fall League. As we have seen in Tebow’s NFL and very short baseball career, he attracts a crowd, and assuredly, much like Michael Jordan did back in 1994, he will bring record numbers to the ballpark.

If you are a proponent, you point out how this is a good thing because more revenue and attention is always good for baseball. Furthermore, it is a good thing because it will bring more attention to the players who are playing in the games.

If you are a detractor, you believe this is a bad thing because it is merely a distraction which creates a circus like atmosphere that is not conducive to the true intentions of the Arizona Fall League which is prospect development.

One way Tebow fuels his detractors is that he will get playing time that should have gone to another prospect. However, those 30 games isn’t going to change a team’s opinion on a player. Whether or not Tebow deserves to be on the roster, he is there.

In his short duration in the Instructional Leagues, he did show some ability to play baseball. Given his profile and, yes his marketability, the Mets have every interest in seeing how far he could go as a professional baseball player. The Arizona Fall League will help them in that assessment.

Tebow and the other Mets get their chance starting today as the Scottsdale Scorpions visit the Glendale Desert Dogs at 2:35 PM. Tebow will indeed be in the lineup today to make his AFL debut.

As of right now, there is no published TV schedule for any of the Arizona Fall League games.

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