Frank Viola

Mets Should Just Get It Over With And Hire Doug Melvin

On June 26th, Sandy Alderson effectively ended his Mets tenure by taking a leave of absence to fight cancer.  The Mets first started out with J.P. Riccardi, Omar Minaya, and John Ricco reporting to Jeff Wilpon.  This was a temporary solution for the trade deadline with the Mets looking for a new General Manager to replace Alderson.

Back in August, Jon Heyman of Fancred reported Doug Melvin was one of the early candidates the Mets had interest in hiring.  Despite the Mets knowing they had a vacancy, their search for a new General Manager did not begin in earnest until after the regular season ended.

On October 3rd, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported “Melvin is the first known official candidate on a first-round interview list that could contain up to 12 names.”  Puma’s article would go on to explain Melvin was selected in part because he fit the old Fred Wilpon wanted:

All indications are team owner Fred Wilpon would prefer a veteran presence with a strong background in scouting and player development leading the baseball operations, and Melvin, who has spent four decades in the industry, certainly fits that description.

During the first round of interviews, we saw a number of names either decline to be interviewed or pull themselves from consideration.  During this time, we have also seen the Mets make some key decisions about their minor league system.  After Frank Viola announced he was departing from the Mets organization, the team would announce Val Pascucci, Marc Valdes, and Sean Ratliff were not going to return to the organization.

The Pascucci and Ratliff moves were surprises.  Pascucci was the hitting coach in Binghamton where Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso began their breakout offensive seasons.  Ratliff is a 31 year old first time manager who took Kingsport to the postseason.  Under his tutlage prospects like Luis Santana, Shervyen Newton, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic would have terrific seasons.

Over this past week, the Mets whittled down the list of candidates to five and then to three candidates.  It should come as no surprise that Doug Melvin made the cut both times.  One of the reasons why this should not be a surprise is because Mike Puma of the New York Post reports Melvin is the favorite for the job.  That’s not one man’s opinion either.  There have been other reports which have labeled Melvin as such.

When reading the tea leaves, the Mets identified Melvin as one of the guys they wanted early in the process.  During that process, it seems Melvin is the only guy who is sticking through the entire process.  Put another way, he’s one of the few willing to take over the Mets job despite reports over what comes with the position.

If the Mets have truly identified him as the guy to officially take over for Sandy Alderson, which who are we kidding, they have, the team should just get it over with and hire him.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done to build this roster into one that can win the 2019 World Series.  The Mets have wasted four months  in this process.  They should not waste one more day.

If Melvin is the choice, so be it.  There’s no use complaining about it, and we can only hope he goes out and builds the Mets into an NLCS contender like he did with the Brewers in 2011 or with the foundation he set for this year’s team.  However, for him to do it, he’s going to have to get to work.  For that to happen, the Mets have to hire the guy they wanted to hire from the time this entire process began.

Mets Did Well In Cabrera Trade

While Mets fans understandably liked Asdrubal Cabrera, it is important to note he is an impending free agent who has been the worst defensive second baseman in baseball this year.  Couple that with the Mets apparent unwillingness to eat salary in any deal, and it is hard to believe the team would get a significant return for Cabrera.

Well, in what should prove to be quite a surprise, the Mets not only got a good return, they got a far better return for Cabrera than they received for Jeurys Familia.

While an imperfect comparison on many levels, this trade is akin to the Mets obtaining Zack Wheeler from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran.  Certainly, it was easy to make this connection seeing both of them pitch yesterday with both of them providing their own run support and giving their team a chance to win.

Now, Beltran is a Hall of Famer, and Wheeler was a former sixth overall pick in the draft.  Still, the comparisons of Wheeler to new Met Franklyn Kilome is quite interesting.

Both pitchers were in their early 20s at the time of the trade, and both were on the precipice of Top 100 prospect lists.  With respect to both, while they could ramp it up into the upper 90s, and they both had secondary pitch and control issues.

Consider that at the time of the trade, Wheeler was walking 4.8 batters per nine for the Giants’ California (Single-A) affiliate.  For his part, Kilome has been walking 4.5 batters per nine for the Phillies Double-A affiliate.  Of course, the biggest difference between the two is Wheeler was able to put batters away.

In fact, Wheeler was striking out over ten batters per nine innings.  For his part, Kilome has struck out 7.8 batters per nine in his minor league career.  This includes a 7.3 K/9 with the Phillies prior to this year.

This is what makes Kilome an interesting prospect.  This is a guy with tremendous stuff, who just needs someone to get through to him and unlock that potential.  That task is first up to Rumble Ponies pitching coach Frank Viola.

Looking at Kilome’s first start with Binghamton, he walked just one batter in seven innings.  It’s possible Viola has already started getting Kilome to make the tweaks he needs.  It’s also possible this is a one start blip.

If the Mets get through to Kilome, they have a guy who could be a middle of the rotation starter.  Maybe more.  If not, they have another late inning bullpen arm who is living in the upper 90s.  In either event, that’s not a bad ceiling or floor when you consider the Mets traded away a rental without a true position.

 

 

Mets Blogger Round Table: Our Favorite Hometown Mets

With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, the organization has yet again went out and brought home a local boy to play for the hometown team.  It is something we have seen from the organization throughout their history starting with Ed Kranepool, and it is a new focus we have seen with this organization with them drafting Long Islanders Steven Matz, Justin Dunn, and Anthony Kay.

With the Mets illustrious, and in the case of Bobby Bonilla, infamous hometown players coming home to play for the Mets, in a new feature on Mets Daddy, Mets bloggers have come together to answer the question about who is their favorite hometown Mets players:

Michael Baron (MLB.com)

I’ve actually come to really admire T.J. Rivera. He’s a guy who has had to work very hard every minute of every day to be relevant, and his journey to-date has really been inspiring. He has a positive, workman-like attitude from which a lot of people can learn from in any realm of business and society. He is fearless and likable; that combined with his New York roots make him easy to root for.

There is a village in Michigan named Brooklyn. I know this because the Michigan International Speedway is there, even though the 2010 census claimed the population of Brooklyn, Mich. was 1,206. I’m from the Brooklyn in New York though. It feels like 25 percent of all professional athletes are from Brooklyn (the one in New York), yet I had to make a brief stop at Google (Mountain View, Calif.) to remember Johnny Franco. Of course. I met him at Gil Hodges Lanes once when I was a youth. There is a picture of us that I am pretty sure I lost over the years because I am an awful person. I did bring it once with me to show some friends in high school. One person thought Franco was my father. I thought it was weird she would think I would just walk into school, as a teenager, to show people a picture of me and my father, and she thought it was weird I would bring in an old picture of me with some baseball player, and we were both right to think these things. (But I was more right.)

Past: Tim Teufel

Present T.J. Rivera

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Lee Mazzilli hands down. When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, Maz made his debut in 1976. I was 8 years old. My last name might be Irish, but my mom’s Italian, and so were many of my cousins, so it was pretty cool to have a guy who looked like me (well, sorta) wearing a Mets uniform. I copied his batting stance, wore my sweatbands on my forearms and basically fought every kid who wanted to be Lee Mazzilli when we played wiffle ball.

When he was traded, I was devastated, but when he came back and became a key player for the 1986 Mets, it was a dream come true.

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

Being from Maine, my favorite hometown Met would be Mike Bordick. He played his High School ball and College baseball in Maine before signing with the Oakland A’s in 1986. Few players with Maine ties end up in the big leagues so at the time I was excited that the Mets traded for him in 2000. My dad, brother and I drove down to New York for his first game with the Mets. We got to see him hit a home run in his first at-bat as a Met. Unfortunately, Bordick struggled offensively for the Mets including a bat postseason in the Mets run to the World Series loss to the Yankees. Just a few years after that I met Mike’s dad who was a local umpire and got to know him as player and coach.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Ed Glynn, because he sold hot dogs at Shea Stadium as a kid.

Based on localness, I’d have to go with Brooklyn’s own Lee Mazzilli, who I don’t think would have thrived anywhere else.  Connecticut HS star Rico Brogna and Al Leiter from NJ round out the tri-state circle for me.

Shoutout to Frank Viola of nearby East Meadow for bringing the LI accent.

And tip of the cap to Ed Kranepool, who showed us the Bronx long before Bobby Bo.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

It’s an interesting question, because we’ve got lots of players right now who could qualify as favorites, who have deeply ingrained ties to the Mets besides where they were born. We’ve got lots of players who are not hometown but are home-grown — deGrom, Conforto, Familia, Flores, Reyes (kind of). Travis d’Arnaud has been with a million different teams and was born in California, but he did idolize Mike Piazza growing up. And of course, David Wright grew up a Mets fan because his hometown team was the Norfolk Tides. But much as we all love those guys, they’re not hometown players. There are four hometown guys on our 40-man roster: Matz, Harvey, Frazier, and T.J. Rivera. Frazier hasn’t played a game as a Met yet, and T.J. Rivera, while he’s had his great moments, isn’t a favorite yet. So, it comes down to Matz and Harvey. Matz gets bonus points right away for being from Long Island. If you come from the spiritual home of Mets fandom, and pitch into the eighth inning in your debut while going 3/3 with four RBIs, it’s hard not to become a fan favorite. But nevertheless, I’m going with Matt Harvey. It’s no secret that the Dark Knight hasn’t been a star lately. But his first three seasons in the bigs are enough to make him my clear choice. When Harvey debuted in the summer of 2012, I was away at camp; we were seniors, so we had a TV in our cabin, but we weren’t watching the game. I followed the ESPN Bottom Line that entire night and shouted results to the one other Mets fan in the group each time they came up: “seven strikeouts in three innings…eight through four…ten through five!” I saw those results come in, and literally right in that moment, I felt myself fill with hope, for the first time in a long time, that one day we would be good again. Then, of course, there was 2013 Harvey, who is still the best pitcher I’ve ever seen. I wore my Harvey shirt every day he took the mound that year, and every game, I was convinced, until proven otherwise, that he would throw a perfect game. He got out hopes up a few times, too, even though he could never quite finish it. I was at the game, the night after we’d all learned that Harvey would need Tommy John surgery. “Why does this always happen to us?” the ticket taker asked me. He was genuinely distressed, even angry. “I just don’t get it.” I didn’t have an answer, and I didn’t know then that Harvey would never again pitch as well as we all hoped to see every time out, so I just said “I don’t know,” then I went to my seat and watched us lose 2-1 to the Phillies, which somehow seemed fitting.

Mets Daddy

Ultimately, the answer for me comes down to Harvey or Leiter as I will remember both of them for their respective Game 5 performances which ultimately fell short.  In the end, you knew each was a competitor ready, willing, and able to give whatever they had when they stepped on the mound.

While I believe Leiter should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, and I will always appreciate his 1999 play-in game complete game two hit shut-out, my favorite local Met is Harvey.  When he stepped on the mound in 2013, he not only gave the Mets a bona fide ace, he gave us Mets fans hope.  He then delivered on that hope by helping pitch that 2015 Mets team to a pennant.  If not for Terry Collins, that would have been a World Series title.

Before signing off, I do want to mention Brogna (first autograph) and Bud Anderson (Little League) even if Anderson doesn’t quite count as he was a minor leaguer for the Mets.

Overall, I want to thank the various writers for coming onto the site to participate in what I hope will become a weekly round table.  Please return the favor by visiting their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).

Long Island Mets

In 1989, we were on a family vacation to Philadelphia at the same time the Mets were playing at the Vet.  When my Dad picked up the free hotel newspaper, he noticed that Frank Viola was the Mets scheduled starter.  It doesn’t take much for my Dad to want to take us to a Mets game.  That night, my Dad wanted to take us to the game because we had an opportunity to see a former World Series MVP and Long Island native take the mound.

There haven’t been many players from Long Island who have played in the big leagues.  The best player that comes to mind is Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.  There are even fewer that play for the Mets.  There was the aforementioned Viola.  There has also been John Valenin and John Lannan, both of whom had less than stellar Mets careers.  However, last year, Steven Matz burst onto the scene.

Like my Dad, I took my son to see Matz’s first game at Citi Field.  It was an event with him pitching 7.2 innings allowing five hits, two earned, and two walks while striking out six.  He was also 3-3 at the plate with a double and four RBI.  It was a glimpse into what a special player he was going to become.  So far in his young career, Matz is 11-2 with a 2.36 ERA.  There are many reasons why Matz is so good.  There have been many that have helped him along the way including his AAA pitching coach Frank Viola.

After the first day of the MLB draft tonight, it appears that Viola is going to get a couple more Long Island players to help out.

With the 19th selection, the Mets selected Freeport native Justin Dunn.  Like most, I really don’t know that much about Dunn other than the published scouting reports.  Here is all I’ve seen of him pitch so far:

On a special note, he is slated to pitch tonight for Boston College in the NCAA Baseball Super Regionals against Miami at 5 P.M.  That game will be televised on ESPNU.

The other pitcher the Mets drafted was Anthony Kay who went to high school at Ward Melville.  This is the same high school that Matz attended.  They were not classmates as Kay was in 8th grade when Matz was a senior.  It seems like the Mets have liked Kay for a long time:

Again, like Dunn, I don’t know much about Kay other than the scouting reports.  Unlike Dunn, we’re not going to be able to see him pitch as UConn has already been eliminated.  In the interim, if you are interested in seeing him pitch, here is a clip:

Sooner or later, we will get to see both Dunn and Kay pitch so long as they are able to agree to terms with the Mets.  If so, it is likely they will be placed on the Brooklyn Cyclones roster where they can pitch close to home (closer for Dunn).  Whether or not the fact that these players grew up as Yankee fans is irrelevant.  What matters is that these local players are with the Mets now, and they are going to help the Mets in the future.

With the way things are going, they may eventually be joined by a couple of other Long Islanders since it is suddenly becoming a breeding ground for Mets pitching.