Its astounding how much 2016 is paralleling 2015. This year, like last year, 46 games into the season, they trail the Nationals in the division. Interestingly enough, this is not where the parallels end.
Last year and this year, Travis d’Arnaud had a significant injury forcing him to miss a significant period of time. This pressed Kevin Plawecki into assuming the starting catcher’s job, and he struggled. However, Plawecki kept on catching because his backup was a good defensive poor hitting catcher. Last year was Anthony Recker. This year it’s Rene Rivera.
Last year, the Mets faced the prospect of not knowing when or if David Wright could return due to his back problems. As a result, Eric Campbell played many more games than the Mets ever anticipated he would. The same thing is happening now as a result of Lucas Duda‘s stress fracture in his lower back.
Minor Leaguers Not Ready for the Majors
With the rash injuries last year, the Mets trotted out the likes of Daniel Muno and Darrell Ceciliani to try to fill in the gaps. It didn’t work. This year the Mets have pressed Matt Reynolds and Ty Kelly into action. Reynolds and Kelly are having similar difficulties.
Last year, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee were having the worst years of their careers thereby putting the pressure on the other starters. The Mets were stuck in a holding pattern about making a change as the obvious replacement, Noah Syndergaard, still needed a little more time. This year it is Matt Harvey struggling while the obvious replacement in the rotation, Zack Wheeler, still needs more time to get ready to pitch in the majors.
At this point last year, Bartolo Colon was 7-3 with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.20 This year Colon is 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. This year and last year the Mets have been able to count on Colon to take the ball every fifth day and give them a chance to win.
Mid 30’s Corner Outfielder
Through May 25th last year, Michael Cuddyer was hitting .250/.328/.372. This year Curtis Granderson is hitting .204/.304/.413. Like Cuddyer last year, the Mets are relying heavily on Granderson, and unfortunately, they are not getting the production they need from them.
Second Year Starter Stepping Up
Last year, Jacob deGrom went from Rookie of the Year to All Star. He emerged as the ace of the staff. This year that honor belongs to Syndergaard. Syndergaard has been dominating on the mound like deGrom did last year. He’s a likely All Star, and he’s quickly become the staff’s ace. Honorable mention should go to Steven Matz here as well.
Call for the AA Prospect to Get Called Up
Last year with a rash of injuries and offensive ineptitude, Mets fans shouted from the rooftops that Michael Conforto should be called up to the majors from AA. This year the fans have begun the same with Dominic Smith due to Duda’s injury and Campbell playing there everyday.
Last year, Famila was as dominant as anyone at the end of the game. He started the year a perfect 13/13 in save chances. This year Familia is back to his dominant form. He’s a perfect 16/16 in save chances. As in 2015, Familia is going to slam the door shut.
The Two Team Race
Last year the Braves were the upstarts that faltered. This year will be the Phillies. However, when the dust clears, this is really a two team race between the Mets and the Nationals for the NL East.
Just remember that no matter how bad things got last year, the Mets still won the division by seven games. This year the Mets have a much better team across the board. We may sometimes forget this when the Mets slump or have a couple of injuries. However, this is a much better Mets team that can win the division. This is still a World Series contender. That’s the overriding lesson from 2015.
At what point does T.J. Rivera finally get his shot?
In his minor league career, Rivera has hit everywhere he’s gone. In his minor league career, he’s hit .320/.367/.423. For the past three years, he’s played Winter Ball hitting .307/.361/.445. Bottom line is Rivera has hit everywhere he has played in his entire minor league career. He had gotten better each and every year. For example, he’s hitting .330/.360/.524 in Triple-A right now.
Even with Rivera hitting so well and improving, it seems like the undrafted 27 year old may never get his shot.
He didn’t last year. The Mets were more comfortable with a struggling Dilson Herrera. They were more comfortable with Danny Muno. They didn’t protect him in the Rule 5 draft despite his offensive production. The Mets were able to keep him because no one thought he was worthy of a Rule 5 pick. Seeing what the Braves put on the field, it makes you question what are we missing with Rivera?
There is a tendency to scout a player’s minor league statistics. The belief is that if a player can hit in the minors, they can hit in the majors. The inverse of that is deemed to be true as well. However, there are many more factors at play like level of competition, approach at the plate, level of experience and age compared to the competition, etc. When taking a totality of the circumstances, a player who hits well in the minors but isn’t deemed good enough to hit in the majors is tagged as a AAAA player.
Is that the case with Rivera? Is he really just a AAAA player? That would be the most logical explanation as to why he still hasn’t gotten his shot.
To answer that, we need to look at what he is. Rivera is a utility player that can play second, third and short. In reality, given his range and arm strength, he’s best suited to second base. Overall, no matter where you play him, he’s not that great defensively. Despite his relative versatility, it’s Rivera’s bat that would carry him to the majors.
As discussed above, Rivera has hit everywhere. There’s good reason for that. He’s a disciplined hitter. He has a good compact swing, and he’s a gap to gap line drive hitter. He doesn’t generate much power, but he’s capable of the occasional double. In short, Rivera shows the skills to be able to get on base no matter what the level.
What we don’t know if that ability will ever translate. At the major league level, the Mets have Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell. Campbell, in particular, is what Rivera aspires to be. Campbell can play a multitude of positions. He doesn’t generate much power, but he has shown the ability to get on base. So long as Campbell gets on base, the Mets aren’t sending him down.
In the event Campbell ever gets sent down, it’s highly unlikely Rivera ever gets the call. He’s buried at the upper levels of the Mets minor league system behind guys like Herrera, Matt Reynolds, and Gavin Cecchini. Worse yet, Rivera isn’t on the 40 man roster thereby further decreasing his chances of ever getting a shot.
Unfortunately, it appears Rivera may never get his shot with the Mets. He may never get an opportunity to show he has the tools to hit and get on base in the major leagues. It’s a testament to a deep Mets farm system. It’s an indictment of the rest of baseball, who apply AAAA tags to players without ever giving them a chance that they’ve earned.
T.J. Rivera has earned a shot to play in the major leagues. Hopefully, he will get that shot someday.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net
Last year, the Mets saw lengthy absences from David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud. Daniel Murphy and Michael Cuddyer were nicked up most of the year. Other Mets players got bumps and bruises along the way. The Mets depth got tested early and often in 2015, and it was ugly.
Dilson Herrera and Kevin Plawecki showed they weren’t ready to hit major league pitching. For his part, Plawecki had to stay in the lineup because Anthony Recker and Johnny Monell weren’t either. Eric Campbell and John Mayberry, Jr. showed why they weren’t everyday players, let alone middle of the order bats. There were other forgettable debuts from players like Darrell Ceciliani and Danny Muno. In 2015, the Mets bet against their farm system, and it nearly cost them the season.
In the offseason, the Mets made sure to build a deeper roster. They moved Wilmer Flores to a utility role. Alejandro De Aza is here as a fifth outfielder. Juan Lagares is a part time player who will start against lefties and come on as a late defensive replacement. Herrera is back in AAA where he belongs for now. Campbell and Plawecki are on the 25 man roster, but they are asked to do much less. Hypothetically, it’s a much deeper team.
Well, that hypothesis is now being put to the test.
Yoenis Cespedes has been dealing with a thigh issue due to his jumping in the stands and an awkward slide. As for now, he’s not DL bound. Yesterday, d’Arnaud left the game early with pain in his throwing shoulder. While he may not have been the best at throwing out would be base stealers, his throws were uncharacteristically poor. He will be examined today before a DL decision is made. Whether it will be one day, one week, one month, or more, the Mets will miss Cespedes and d’Arnaud.
No matter how much time if will be, this Mets team is better built to sustain these losses. Having a De Aza/Lagares platoon is a much better option than Ceciliani. Plawecki has another year of development under his belt. Hopefully, this translates to him having a better year at the plate.
The Mets better hope so. The Nationals look like a different team than they were a year ago. The Mets aren’t going to be able to coast for two – three months with subpar players. This is a new year. Fortunately, this is a new Mets team that’s built for just these types of situations.
It’s funny when you think about it, but Kelly Johnson is now an ex-Met. He has returned to the Atlanta Braves where he has played most of his career. However, at least to me, in his three plus months with the team, he became a Met.
It might’ve been the circumstances in which he came to the team. The offense was historically bad. Terry Collins was trying to stick Danny Muno sized pegs into a Krakatoa sized hole. I used Krakatoa there because it was a disaster. Sandy Alderson finally responded by making a shrewd trade to bring on Johnson and Juan Uribe. In his first game as a Met, Johnson hit cleanup, played second, and did this:
The Mets who couldn’t hit their way out of a paper bag suddenly beat the Dodgers 15-2. The season had a different feel. The Mets made a move, and it was paying off. The Mets would win three straight. Everything changed when Johnson and Uribe joined the team. Everything that happened afterwards started with them.
Johnson did all he could do to help. He played every position but pitcher, catcher, and center. I appreciated it, but to me that wasn’t the moment he became a Met. That moment was after Game Two of the NLDS. He lambasted that coward. He was emotional defending his teammate, a teammate that was a New York Met.
Before the trade, I was never a fan of Kelly Johnson. The reason is as simple as it might’ve been unfair. He was an Atlanta Brave. Now, however, I see him as a New York Met even if he’s back in a Braves uniform. He was a key part of a World Series team and wish him the best of luck. When he returns to Citi Field this year, I’ll stand up and clap. He deserves it.
Thank you Kelly Johnson.
The Yoenis Cespedes trade was everything Mets fans could’ve dreamed of and more. The man has been a walking, talking highlight film. Tyler Clippard has locked down the eighth inning. Even though the price the Mets paid for these two players was high, these players have produced well enough that this isn’t the story.
You know what isn’t a story anymore? Sandy Alderson’s trade that brought the Mets Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. Neither one has been spectacular since coming to the Mets. Uribe has gone .200/.288/.410. Johnson has gone .245/.297/.426. However, they’ve had their moments. Yesterday, Johnson hit a homerun to put the Mets up 2-0. On his first day, Uribe got a game winning hit in extra innings. Uribe may not be hitting much, but the hits he has are huge.
Also, Uribe has been a great clubhouse presence. He keeps things light. He keeps things upbeat. That’s important when the Mets have had some bad beats. This team gets themselves off the mat. I’m sure Uribe has played a large part in that.
It’s also important to note with David Wright back and a healthy Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, they’re bench players. Good, veteran bench players that gives Terry Collins a lot of options. This is a huge upgrade over the Danny Muno‘s of the world.
Johnson and Uribe have both been been in the playoffs, and Uribe has won a World Series. Their acquisition was the first step towards winning a World Series. However far the Mets go, they will be a big part of it.
Yesterday, the Mets acquired Addison Reed. Erik Goeddel is on the 60 day DL, and he’s in the middle of his rehab assignment. Finally, the Mets need to make room for Eric Young, Jr. At a minimum, this means the Mets need to make three moves on the 40 man roster, and two of these changes must be made before September 1st.
Previously, I wrote a fairly lengthy piece on the issue. I won’t regurgitate the analysis here. You can click the link and read it. Instead, I’ll list the players who may see themselves removed from the 40 man roster in the order of what I think is most likely:
If I’m correct, three of these players will be gone. Now, there is the possibility, the Mets can designate Eric O’Flaherty for assignment, thereby clearing room for Reed on the 25 and 40 man rosters. O’Flaherty has been bad with the Mets, but he’s been put in tough spots by Terry Collins.
Keep in mind that O’Flaherty is the only true LOOGY the Mets have right now. He’s only supposed to pitch to lefties. He hasn’t been treated that way by Collins. For his career, lefties hit .208/.271/.270. This season those numbers are .258/.333/.290. He’s been worse this year, but there is still evidence in the numbers that the Mets should stick with him.
There are 33 games left in the season. With the expanded rosters, O’Flaherty should never see a righty except when there’s one beside him warming up in the bullpen. If you can’t get O’Flaherty right in the final 33 games, you can leave him off the postseason roster. Once you DFA him, he’s forever gone. He’s no longer an asset. You can’t work with him to improve. It’s better to keep him now rather than move him two days before you could’ve kept him with expanded rosters.
The better choice is Logan Verrett. The Mets seemingly wanted to see if he could be a seventh inning option, but that plan went away with a spot start. Sure Verrett made two appearances since; one good, one terrible. With Steven Matz being a good bet to join the rotation soon, and the trade for Addison Reed, there appears to be no room for Verrett on the 25 man roster for the time being.
The other realistic option with options left is Hansel Robles. He has trouble with the strike zone at times. However, he’s got good peripheral stats, and he’s shown he can give some length. Accordingly, I’d send down Verrett. He would then be available 10 days later or September 9th. This is enough time for another start or a few relief appearances.
As for Goeddel and EY, I wouldn’t take any actions on the 25 man roster to accommodate them. Rather, I would wait the two days and call them up when rosters expand on September 1st.
Therefore, while there are three 40 man decisions to be made, the Mets really only need to make one move with the 25 man roster. Here’s hoping they keep O’Flaherty Nd get him right for the playoffs.
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:
- Dario Alvarez
- Vic Black
- Jack Leathersich
- Steven Matz
- Akeel Morris
- Logan Verrett
- Gabriel Ynoa
- Johnny Monell
- Anthony Recker
- Dilson Herrera
- Danny Muno
- Wilfredo Tovar
- Darrell Ceciliani
- Michael Cuddyer
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis
In deciding who to remove, there are a couple of important factors to take into account:
- This player will be exposed on waivers allowing any team to claim that player, and
- 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 Murphy, Kelly 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 Reynolds, Gavin 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.
The Mets offense is officially offensive. As I tweeted last night, their runs per game is as follows:
April 4.35 runs per game
May 3.54 runs per game
June 2.96 runs per game
July 2.87 runs per game.
This is unsustainable and had led to a -16 run differential. Things need to be fixed quickly to reverse these trends or the Mets run the risk of letting the season get away. For the purposes of this post, I’ll take the front office at face value and assume a trade can’t be competed just yet. Also, I’m not going to waste my breath here about bringing Conforto up to the majors (that’s for another time). The front office has made it clear he’s not getting called up. However, that does not mean something can’t be done now.
First: Transfer Wright to the 60 day disabled list. He’s been gone for 60 days already. Not putting him on the 60 day DL is roster mismanagement. Once Wright is put on the 60 day DL, the Mets can call up someone not in the 40 man roster.
Second: Call up Matt Reynolds (he’s not on the 40 man roster) and install him as the everyday SS. Let’s face it – since the day the Mets refused to resign Reyes, Tejada had been given several chances to become the everyday SS and failed. In this latest attempt, he had a triple slash line of .255/.322/.360 and a UZR of 0.8, i.e. he is bad at the plate and average in the field. CORRECTION: after posting this I learned Matt Reynolds is on the 7 day DL.
Reynolds had a triple slash line of .270/.327/.410. I wasn’t able to find his UZR information, but scouts seem optimistic on his defense. If Reynolds minor league stats carry over, the Mets improve the SS position and the bench. If they don’t translate (the PCL is a hitter’s league after all), he had a cup of coffee. It’s not like his production would be so bad as to justify carrying Eric Campbell on the roster (side note: I’m sorry because Campbell works hard and really tries to help the team). I know Reynolds isn’t on the 40 man roster, but so what? Are you really afraid of losing
Third: Outright Alex Torres and recall Logan Verrett. This would leave the Mets with only one lefty in the pen, Sean Gilmartin, who is not a LOOGY. However, Torres isn’t effective against lefties. Lately, he hadn’t been effective at all. In a small sample size, Verrett has been largely effective for the Mets.
Fourth: Recall Dilson Herrera, bench Wilmer Flores, and release John Mayberry, Jr. In his last 10 games, Herrera is hitting .359 with a .390 OBP. He’s hot. Flores has been bad defensively and at the plate. However, he does have some pop in his bat and could be an effective PH. To make room for Herrera, Mayberry should be released. He just hasn’t hit. He’s taking up a valuable roster spot right now.
Fifth: Call up Travis Taijeron and send down Danny Muno. I know I joked yesterday about Taijeron and the Mets need for more minor leaguers. However, this post is seeking drastic measures to help this team, which is best done by eliminating most of the bench. This season Taijeron’s triple slash is an eye opening .271/.395/.523. Why hasn’t he been called up? Well he is not a highly thought of prospect having been drafted in the 11th round in 2011. Why send down Muno? He’s bad at baseball. Travis Taijeron is not in the 40 man roster, but I am comfortable exposing Wilfredo Tovar to waivers.
With all the machinations, the Mets have mostly retooled their bench (except Nieuwenhuis and Recker) and they find out what they have in Reynolds and Taijeron. Also, it creates a spot for with Nimmo or Conforto in AAA and possibly Gavin Cecchini as well. Maybe I’m wrong, but at least this is something.