Gavin Cecchini

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Who We Are Watching This Spring

After the positive feedback we received after our first Mets Blogger Roundtable, the Mets Bloggers have decided to come back for at least a second week.  This week, we tackle the question “Which Mets player are we most excited about watching this Spring Training?”

Michael Baron (MLB.com)

Dominic Smith is the first player that comes to my mind, although there are several interesting stories to watch this spring. Here’s a guy who has spent a number of years now battling weight issues, and therefore reputation issues, and it’s no secret the organization has concerns with him. And, obviously, signing Adrian González clearly indicates that as well. I am looking for him to step up and look like the player and prospect everyone expects him to be, similar to howMichael Conforto performed last spring. If Dom does that, he’ll make for a tough decision a month from now, which is always a good internal conversation for Mets brass to have.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Do we all remember when Bret Booneabruptly retired a few days into Mets spring training camp in 2006? He admitted Jose Reyes “just kind of stared” at him “with that smile on his face” and realized the joy of playing baseball in himself was long gone. Well, I’m hoping Adrian Gonzalez looks at Dominic Smith, smiling and loving life with his old and new svelte physique, and realizes his future as a full-time top sub sandwich enterprise ambassador should be his present. Smith did not earn the full-time first baseman gig last season, but he’s already earned it before the first ST game. He wasn’t even in this good of shape last spring, so I’m looking forward to seeing the Dom Smith everybody warned with a smile was about to enter our lives last summer.

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

The player I am most excited to watch at Spring Training might surprise a few people. It’s Brandon Nimmo. I am by no means trying to say he’s an all-star, but I think he is often overlook for the value he brings to a team. First of all, his defense in center field (while not as good as Juan Lagares) is good. For me, I am more impressed with his approach at the plate. He’s one of the more disciplined hitters on the team, especially when it comes to his knowledge of the strike zone. Sure, his .260 batting average last year is not too impressive, but his on-base percentage was more than 100 points higher at .379. Despite not looking like he’s going to have a starting spot out of the gate, Nimmo is going to be an important piece on this team coming off of the bench. And knowing how hard he works, if there’s an injury, he’ll be ready to go in a pinch. It’s hard not to root for the kid.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Player I am most excited about? Great question. I know if the Mets had been smart enough to sign Joe Smith, he’d have been my answer. I guess I have to let that one go, though. Steven Matz is the other. There are certain guys I love to watch pitch, and Matz is the latest version of that.

I have been a vocal critic of how Terry Collins and Dan Warthen handled the pitching staff for the last several years, and think the staff’s effectiveness in 2015 was despite their best efforts. I think how Matz was handled has been an organizational failure, but with Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, they finally have people who truly understand how to get him to the next level. A healthy consistent Matz would be a huge assist to this rotation, so that’s what I am most excited to see.

Agree with Michael on Smith. I’m not sure excited is the word, but I am really interested to see how Matt Harvey starts off this spring. Reports are he can feel the ball again and, in my opinion, this will probably be his last season with the Mets. If he dominates, Mets won’t pay him. If he stinks, bye bye.

The Mets player I’m most interested in seeing this spring is Yoenis Cespedes. The slugger is coming off a season that saw injuries limit him to only 81 games. He’s trained differently this offseason including doing yoga to make sure he is more agile and not simply bulked up like in 2017. It will be interesting to see if his offseason training can help him regain his decencies prowess that helped him win a gold glove in 2015. Also have to see if he can make it through all spring without a muscle injury which seemed to be a weekly occurrence for him last season.

When healthy, Cespedes has been everything the Mets hoped for when they traded for him and signed him to a four-year deal. The Mets are not going to be contenders in 2018 if Cespedes plays only 81 games and spring will be a good time to see if anything has changed for Yo.

I’d actually like to see what Wilmer Flores and Gavin Cecchini do this spring. For Flores, I’d like to see if he takes to the outfield. I kinda hope he doesn’t, only because I’d rather he be placed at one position instead of some utility player who is bad at five positions. As for Cecchini, the Mets are going to need a second baseman next year. This is his last shot to prove he deserves a longer look. Because hey … Daniel Murphy is a free agent next year!

I’m looking forward to seeing uniformly healthy Mets in Spring Training and Mickey Callaway overwhelmed by a plethora of great options as he fills out his roster.

To me, the question comes down to, who has the most potential to be a complete game-changer for the season, with a good spring? So for that reason, while both of those guys will be important, I’m going with Amed Rosario. Obviously, people are excited about Amed – he was one of the top prospects in baseball before he came up – but I don’t think people have really let themselves imagine what kind of difference he could make if he lives up to the hype. Imagine if our starting shortstop suddenly hits .285/.350/.450, or around there, or even better, with great speed and defense, and solid power. I’d say that instantly makes our lineup significantly more dangerous than we expect right now. And even more than that, if Amed is for real, it’s a sign; it’s a message to every Mets fan that whatever happens, we’ve got a present and a future to look forward to. We’ve all seen the effect that one player can have on a season, no matter how badly the season goes: we all got excited every fifth day in 2013, even while we were losing 88 games, because of Matt Harvey. So, if Amed starts the season, and hits for power, plays great defense, steals bases, makes contact, gets on base…he could very quickly become a defining part of the Mets’ season. Unfortunately, if he falls apart and gets demoted, that will probably be a defining moment too, for a season that probably won’t end nearly as well. But being an optimist, a Mets fan, and an Amed believer, I think he’s got everything he needs, and I’m hoping he shows it this Spring.

Mets Daddy

While I didn’t initially feel this way, my opinion changed when I saw the Mets had put T.J. Rivera on the 60 day Disabled List to make room for Jason Vargas on the 40 man roster.  As a result, I am really interested to follow what is happening with David Wright this Spring Training.

With the signing of Todd Frazier and Wright’s comments to the press, it seems like everyone is getting closer to admitting the truth – Wright’s days as a baseball player are all but done.  However, I also get the sense Wright sees just one more chapter for himself.  That chapter may just be one random inning in September with expanded rosters, or maybe, just maybe Wright thinks he can help this team as a bench player.  If any of that is true, we are eventually going to see Wright doing something in terms of baseball activities.

Until that point, it is important to note Callaway does see value in Wright, and he seems to want him around the team.  As a Mets fan, I want him to forever be around this team.  I just hope Wright is able to do something this Spring that will allow him to actually appear on the field – even if it is just for one more game.

Again, I want to thank the various writers for coming onto the site to participate in this roundtable. Please return the favor by visiting their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).  I hope you will enjoy their work as much as I have.

Mets Organization Failing Their Prospects

Looking at the different talent evaporators around the sport, many will peg the Mets farm system in the lower third of farm systems. There are a myriad of conflicting and reasonable opinions why this exists.

There is the fact that over the past few seasons, the Mets organization has seen top prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario graduate from prospect status. Knocking names like these off your lists is going to take a toll on how your farm system is perceived.

There are those like Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, who surmises the Mets have made a series of mistakes in the draft that include drafting Gavin Cecchini over Corey Seager and drafting L.J. Mazzilli over Cody Bellinger.

While either or both of these may be true, there may be an alternate explanation. What if, the Mets are actually drafting the right players, but they are failing their prospects by failing to do what is needed to help cultivate each prospect’s talents to get them to reach their full potential?

Consider for a moment, the difference between Keith Law’s 2017 and 2018 prospect lists. In Law’s 2017 rankings, he had listed Mets prospects Rosario (1), Dominic Smith (29), Thomas Szapucki (60), Robert Gsellman (76), and Justin Dunn(84) in his Top 100. (ESPN Insider). This year? Well, only 2017 first round pick David Peterson made the list. (ESPN Insider).

Now, it is true Rosario, Smith, and Gsellman are no longer considered prospects. It is also true Szapucki and Dunn have dropped off the list. Their dropping off the list does seem to answer the question why the Mets prospects are not developing with way many believed they would.

With respect to Dunn, Law comes close to, but does not quite say the Mets handling of him was a complete disaster. In a conference call discussing his Top 100 prospect list, Law had this to say about Dunn:

They probably pushed him too far to high A just speaking in hindsight, but also there were a lot of issues with his fields of pitch, with his fastball command, with lack of life on the fastball that you almost look — and again, this is all hindsight, but you look and say, nobody caught that? Nobody on the player development side looked and said, well, hey, wait a minute, here are two things we’re going to have to work on in instructional league last year in spring training this year, before sending you out to high A, which is normal for a typical college draftee, but maybe not for him.

Really, it is quite an indictment on the Mets organization to say they completely missed something on a top prospect during the Instructional Leagues, and the team also failed to address the issue during a season in which Dunn would go 5-6 with a 5.00 ERA.

As we saw with Law’s rankings, seasons like this tend to cause evaluators and organizations to begin re-assessing their opinions of certain players. This is not something unique to Dunn.

Certainly, we saw something similar happen with former first round draft pick Kevin Plawecki. Entering the 2015 season, the Mets were excited about him, and when Travis d’Arnaud got hurt in April, they rushed Plawecki to the majors. Over the next few seasons, he would bounce between Triple-A and the majors. In that time, he would never quite progress. That was until last year, when he finally had a prolonged stretch in Triple-A. Judging from his performance last year, that helped him figure things out and help him enter the Mets plans for the 2018 season.

Certainly, the mismanagement of the development of prospects goes further than Dunn and Plawecki. The same could be said for someone like Cecchini, who after two very good years in 2015 and 2016, completely regressed last season, and his status on the 40 man roster is now teetering.

While the Mets handling of prospects like Dunn and Plawecki are instructive. The situation with Szapucki is equally as enlightening.

After dominating opposing batters in his first two professional seasons, Szapucki first appeared to take small step back with Low-A Columbia. Eventually, it was discovered Szapucki had a torn UCL requiring season ending Tommy John surgery.

With that Szapucki joined other promising Mets prospects Jordan Humphreys, who was having a break-out season on the mound, and position player Blake Tiberi in needing the surgery. If only, those were the only season ending surgeries and injuries the Mets suffered in their minor league system last year. Frankly, it has become a pattern, and it’s hindering development, and it is one that has not escaped Law’s attention:

They have had a ton of injuries on the farm, too. I’ve written the Mets’ org report already. I think it goes up on Monday. And I’m struck by how many guys were hurt, are coming back from getting hurt, guys who haven’t come all the way back. Luis Carpiois a good example of a guy who I thought was going to be a pretty good prospect at least, threw out his shoulder, had surgery, and has just not been the same player since he returned. So some of this is health, and I don’t know if that’s player development, the training staff, or just rotten luck.

Really, it goes much further than Szapucki, Humphreys, Tiberi, and Carpio.

Catcher Ali Sanchez has had hand injuries in successive seasons. Desmond Lindsay has had issues staying on the field, and he needed major surgery last year. Jhoan Urena effectively lost two seasons of development time to injuries. Even rising star Peter Alonso has suffered broken bone injuries the last two seasons, which given the Mets current track record, should give everyone pause. It should surprise no one the list goes on and on from there.

Looking at everything, maybe you still conclude the main issue is the graduation of prospects. It’s still possible many believe the real issue is the inability to select the right player. Regardless of your point of view, the one thing that cannot be discounted is this Mets organization is having difficulty keeping players healthy, keeping them on the field, and surrounding them with the things they need to succeed.

What The 2018 Mets Roster Should’ve Looked Like

When Sandy Alderson took over as the Mets General Manager, one of the areas of emphasis was supposed to be building a sustainable farm system that would give the Mets continued success throughout the years.  This, in turn, would prevent the Mets from having to give out those proverbial second generation contracts Alderson purportedly despises giving to players.

Now, in order for that to happen, the team was going to have to not only draft well, but they were going to have to identify international talent.  If the Mets had indeed done well in those efforts, the Mets Opening Day roster would have looked something like this:

C – Travis d’Arnaud; Kevin Plawecki
1B – Dominic Smith
2B – Gavin Cecchini
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Yoenis Cespedes
CF – Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo
RF – Michael Conforto

But as we know it doesn’t.  One of the reasons why is the team has not developed position players as well as the organization, or really anyone would have liked.  If you are not being so understanding, you would say the Mets whiffed on high draft picks by drafting players who are either backups or career minor leaguers.

Look, no one has a perfect draft record, and we should remember this regime did draft Conforto and Michael Fulmer.  The problem there is they traded Fulmer away.  That is something they are reportedly not willing to do with Nimmo despite the fact he is blocked by Cespedes, Conforto, and Jay Bruce for the next three years.

With respect to Cecchini and Smith, the Mets have decided at a minimum, neither are ready to start next season in the majors.  This would be easier to swallow had either received a real shot of proving their abilities.  Instead, the Mets will go with broken Adrian Gonzalez and who knows what at second.

Overall, the 2017 Mets are not what Sandy Alderson envisioned what they would be when these players were first drafted.  That’s fair to a certain extent because no one imagined that the Mets would look this way when the team won the pennant in 2015.

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.

Omar Minaya Returning Is Great News

In what was a surprising and completely unexpected move, the New York Mets announced that Omar Minaya is returning as a Special Assistant to Sandy Alderson.  In Omar’s new role, he will have a varying role including but not limited to scouting and player development.  While this offseason has been a complete disappointment thus far, this decision is a great move for the Mets:

1.  Omar Left The Mets In Better Shape Than Advertised

One of the issues for Omar when he departed for the Mets was the purported poor state of the Mets minor league system.  There were many reasons for the caricature as he didn’t have many first round picks as the General Manager, and when he did have one, he struck by drafting players like Eddie Kunz.

However, that does not mean the talent wasn’t there.  As we well know, Omar built the core that helped win the 2015 pennant.  It was Omar’s regime that brought in Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Daniel Murphy.

Omar also had originally brought R.A. Dickey to the Mets on a minor league deal.  That led to Dickey winning a Cy Young Award, and Sandy Alderson flipping him in a deal that netted the Mets Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard.  If Sandy and Omar can work in harmony, the Mets may very well turn things around sooner than we believed.

2.  Omar Has Been Able To Get The Wilpons To Spend

When Omar first took the reigns as the Mets General Manager, he went out, and he spent.  He immediately brought in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.  He had to wait a year, but he was eventually able to get Carlos Delgado.  He was also shrewd by getting Jose Reyes and David Wright to sign extensions that proved to be team friendly deals.

Yes, this is true this was all prior to the Madoff Scandal.  However, consider that a month after Madoff was arrested and the Mets standing a real chance of facing financial ruin, Omar was somehow able to get the Mets to agree to sign Jason Bay to a four year $66 million deal.  It’s true that this ultimately proved to be a bad deal, but the overriding point was Omar got the Mets to spend like none other.  If you are able to combine Omar’s influence with Sandy’s prudence, you again get a terrific combination.

3.  Mets Need A Fresh Look At Their Minor League System

The drafted and minor league free agent talent acquired by the Mets since Sandy Alderson became the General Manager has been largely disappointing.  So far, their efforts on the International front has really only produced Amed Rosario.  Rosario is a great prospect, but he’s it.

Also, while the Mets have drafted All Stars in Michael Conforto and Michael Fulmer, they have also do not view high draft picks like Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini as starters at the Major League level.  Moreoever, the team has been harsh in their criticism of Dominic Smith.  It also doesn’t help the team drafted Anthony Kay in the first round, and he has yet to throw a professional pitch due to injury.

In reality, the talent level isn’t where the Mets want it, and it is a large reason why the Mets farm system is largely maligned.  When the farm system is where it is right now, it is time to bring in someone to give a fresh look and help build the system back up.  There are few better at it than Omar Minaya.

Overall, the Mets brought in a well respected voice in baseball and a voice well respected by the Wilpons.  He is being brought in to do what he does best – evaluate and scout talent.  Previously, Alderson was able to take the talent Omar acquired, and the Mets won a pennant.  With Omar and Sandy working together, the sky is the limit right now.

Sandy Alderson Should Want Focus On Payroll Instead Of His Record

In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history.  While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”

If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.

Injuries

During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).

This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players.  This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).

As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse.  Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers.  Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson.  The list goes on and on..

That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built.  Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months.  Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.

The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.

Evaluating Own Talent

Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players.  Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.

The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner.  However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.

The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere.  Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox.  They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick.  Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.

The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go.  It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright.  None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended.  There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.

The Draft

The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors.  Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams.  The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.

At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered.  This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.

Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.

The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.

The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer.  Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes.  We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.

Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.

This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.

Free Agency

Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful.  Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR.  In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.

For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals.  Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract.  Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.

It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.

Depth

Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues.  This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons.  It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.

Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front.  They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals.  Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell

Synposis

Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey.  Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps.  It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.

Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.

Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent.  If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.

Mets Souring On Dominic Smith Begs For A Review of Sandy Alderson’s First Round DraftPicks

One of the purported reasons why Sandy Alderson was hired to replace Omar Minaya as the Mets General Manager was due to the state of the Mets farm system.  Now, there was some truth to that given how Minaya continuously left the team without high draft picks due to his propensity to attack the free agent market.

That went double when you consider he used his top picks to select players like Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Reese Havens, and Bradley HoltEven if those selections were justified at the time, it didn’t help Minaya’s case when they combined to appear in just four Major League games.

With that, Alderson was tasked with rebuilding a deeper than originally believed Mets farm system. In fact, that 2015 pennant winning team was largely built on talent Minaya acquired including Jacob deGrom, Lucas DudaJeurys FamiliaWilmer Flores, Matt HarveyJuan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, and Hansel Robles.

Alderson deftly built upon that core to make the Mets contenders, and now the organization is at the point where it needs Alderson’s farm system to produce Major League ready players to revitalize this team.  Considering how the Mets fell apart last season and how the team seems disenchanted with many of their own first round draft picks, it is time to review Alderson’s first round draft history with the Mets:

2011 – OF Brandon Nimmo (13th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .227/.364/.368, 12 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.379/.418, 11 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Realistically speaking, this should have been the time for Nimmo to emerge as the team’s everyday center fielder.  There was a p0int where this was expected to happen.  However, knee injuries have limited him just enough to where many question his ability to handle center field defensively. It may have also impacted the power hitting ability that never materialized.

Now, Nimmo has shown he belongs on the Major League level in some capacity.  However, if he can’t defensively handle center field, he’s likely a fourth outfielder as his bat does not profile for a corner outfield position.

2011 – RHP Michael Fulmer (44th Overall)

2017 Stats: 10-12, 3.83 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

When drafting a pitcher in the first round, you are hoping to have a front line starting pitcher.  With Fulmer winning Rookie of the Year in 2016 and being named as an All Star in 2017, he certainly appears to be the part even if he missed the final month of the season due to his having ulnar nerve transposition surgery.  Unfortunately, the Mets are not reaping the benefits of his ascension because he was moved to the Tigers as the centerpiece of the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

2012 – SS Gavin Cecchini (12th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .267/.329/.380, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS
2017 MLB Stats: .208/.256/.273, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, CS

Between Cecchini’s defensive struggles and the ascension of Amed Rosario, Cecchini moved to second base this past season.  Whether it was the rigors of learning a new position, bad luck, or an unsustainable .357 BABIP in 2016, Cecchini regressed offensively to the point where the team did not even consider him for the second base vacancy in 2017, and his name isn’t being mentioned as a potential solution in 2018.

2012 – C Kevin Plawecki (35th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .328/.375/.514, 17 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 45 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.364/.400, 5 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, SB

In what was an otherwise dismal year for the Mets, the biggest bright spot was the rejuvenation of Plawecki’s career.  After finally spending an extended stint in Triple-A, he began to put things together offensively.  Couple that with his historically good pitch framing skills, and Plawecki has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster.  Should he continue to progress, and if Travis d’Arnaud repeats his 2016 – 2017 performance, Plawecki could find himself as the Mets everyday catcher next season.

2013 – 1B Dominic Smith (11th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .330/.386/.519, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 76 RBI, SB, CS
2017 MLB Stats: .198/.267/.395, 6 2B, 9 HR, 26 RBI

After years of people questioning if he would ever hit for power, Smith had begun to display the power many believed he always had in Triple-A.  However, despite the gains he made in that department in Triple-A, the Mets have been quite outspoken on how they’ve soured on one of their top prospects.

Whether it is the weight issues or how much he struggled during his call-up, the Mets are not only talking about him not being on the Opening Day roster, but potentially also signing a player like Carlos Santana to a multi-year deal.  If that does happen, this means the Mets will have fully moved on from a top prospect without giving him so much as half a season in the majors.

2014 – OF Michael Conforto (10th Overall)

2017 Stats: .279/.384/.555, 20 2B, 3B, 27 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB

After Terry Collins made him a strict platoon player for two seasons, injuries allowed Conforto to play everyday, and he showed us all just how great he could be.  He made his first All Star team, and he is quite possibly the best player on the roster.  Unfortunately, instead of looking forward to him taking the next step towards superstardom, we are awaiting with baited breath to see how his shoulder heals after he separated it on a swing and miss.

2015 – No Pick

It needs to be mentioned here the Mets sacrificed their 2015 first round draft pick in order to sign Michael Cuddyer.  This was partially the result of the Rockies making him a qualifying offer after how vocal the Mets were about pursuing him in the offseason.  In exchange for that first round pick, the Mets got one season of Cuddyer where he hit .259/.309/.391.  Cuddyer’s injuries and poor production were also a precursor to the Mets having to trade Fulmer away to obtain Cespedes.

2016 – RHP Justin Dunn (19th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: 5-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 7.1 K/9

When Dunn was drafted by the Mets, there were questions about his ability to stick in the rotation.  Dunn did little to quiet those concerns by struggling in his first ever full season as a starting pitcher.  In 16 starts he had a 5.74 ERA as opposed to a 1.59 ERA in his four relief outings.

Ultimately, the talent is there.  The question is whether he can put it together before the Mets get impatient waiting for him to get there.

2016 – LHP Anthony Kay (31st Overall)

The Mets selected Kay with the pick obtained from Murphy signing a deal with the Nationals.  After Kay was used heavily in college, he needed Tommy John surgery, and he signed an underslot deal.  He will look to throw his first pitch as a professional in 2018.

2017 – LHP David Peterson (20th Overall)

2017 Stats: 0-0. 2.45 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

To some, the Mets were lucky Peterson was there for the taking at 20.  Certainly, you can make that argument with the outstanding Junior season he had with Oregon.  Due to his throwing over 100 innings in college, the Mets limited him to just 3.2 innings for Brooklyn before shutting him down.  Next year will be a big year as the Mets look to see if he’s the mid rotation starter some believe, or the top of the rotation type pitcher the Mets were hoping to get.

Synposis

Time and again it needs to be stressed the draft is an inexact science and that luck plays a role in determining how well a prospect develops.

If you want to have a glass half-full perspective, everyone drafted prior to 2015 will make the majors.  Of those six players, two are All Stars.  Depending on what happens this offseason for the Mets, there can be anywhere from one to four everyday players out of the five position players he drafted.

On the glass half-empty front, it does not seem any of his draft picks will reach their full potential.  For players like Dunn, Kay, and Peterson, it is way too early to make that determination.  However, for the rest, that becomes increasingly more of a possibility.  In the cases of Nimmo and Conforto, the fact injuries played a role certainly are a black mark on an Alderson regime that has had issues keeping players healthy.

Worse than the injuries is how the Mets seem to be willing to move on from high draft picks like Cecchini and Smith without so much as a half of season of play to prove themselves.

Overall, there is still time for all of these prospects to develop into the players the Mets hoped they would be when they were drafted.  For those that are pessimistic about that happening, look no further than Plawecki.  If nothing else, he showed you shouldn’t give up on a talented player without giving them a real chance to develop.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Assessing The Mets Second Base Trade Targets

Looking over the free agent roster and the Mets internal options, second base may be the most difficult position to fill.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera each have the bat, but they don’t have the glove. Additionally, Rivera is coming off of Tommy John surgery.  Gavin Cecchini and Phillip Evans have the glove, but they don’t have the bat.

Accordingly, the Mets may best suited to make a trade for a second baseman.  There are some interesting, yet flawed, candidates available:

Dee Gordon

2017 Stats: .308/.341/.375, 20 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 60 SB, 16 CS
Advanced: 3.4 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR, 94 OPS, 92 wRC+, 3 DRS
Salary: 3 years, $37.9, 2021 option ($1 million buyout)

For Mets fans, Gordon seems to be the cure to many ills.  He is a top of the order hitter who steals bases and has a good defensive reputation.  The problem with Gordon is much of his reputation is based upon a career year in 2015, and he has yet to replicate that season.  Overall, he’s been a great base stealer, average defender, and someone who does not walk nearly enough to hit atop the order.  Between that and the salary, the Mets should look elsewhere.

Josh Harrison

2017 Stats: .272/.339/.432, 26 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 4 CS
Advanced: 3.3 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR, 101 OPS+, 104 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $10.25 million (Team options next two seasons)

Harrison seems to be the type of player the Mets covet this offseason due to his versatility.  He’s been a good defender at second, and he can handle himself at third and both corner outfield positions.  He also has a reasonable contract with reasonable team options in succeeding years.  There are two caveats with Harrison.  First, Harrison does not draw many walks.  More importantly for a Mets team unable to keep players on the field, Harrison has his own injury issues.

Ian Kinsler

2017 Stats: .236/.313/.412, 25 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 52 RBI, 14 SB, 5 CS
Advanced: 2.1 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 90 OPS+, 91 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $11 million

With the season Kinsler just had, it’s fair to question whether he’s done at 35 years old.  Even with the dropoff, he was still a good defender at second, and he maintained a respectable 9.0% walk rate.  Like most of his career, he had a good start to the season, hit lefties well, and he tapered off as the season progressed.  It’s possible being put in a new situation with a new manager will be able to rejuvenate him.  Even if it doesn’t, you’re still getting a good defender with a solid clubhouse presence at a somewhat reasonable cost.

Jason Kipnis

2017 Stats: .232/.291/.414, 25 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.4 bWAR, 0.7 fWAR, 81 OPS+, 82 wRC+, -2 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $28.3 million ($16.5 million 2020 option)

After being a reasonably healthy player, Kipnis had an injury plagued year that kept him off the field and helped lead to a career worst year.  Ever the team player, Kipnis came back from the disabled list, and with him having been supplanted at second base by Jose Ramirez, he went to center field.  With Ramirez playing a terrific second and the emergence of Yandy Diaz, it’s rumored the Indians may be willing to move Kipnis.

It’s also likely it’s going to be a high price tag.  Kipnis has a reasonably salary, and the Indians could use him at either first of the outfield depending on what happens with Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce.  Considering he’s a 4.0+ WAR player when healthy, he might just be worth whatever price the Indians demand.

Ben Zobrist

2017 Stats: .232/.318/.375, 20 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.5 bWAR, 0.3 fWAR 79 OPS+, 82 wRC+, 5 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $29 million

After the 2015 season, the Mets thought Zobrist might be the player to take them over the top, and they vigorously pursued him in free agency.  The Mets were proven to be correct when Zobrist was the 2016 World Series MVP.  For those that believed Zobrist’s deal was going to be harsh at the tail end, they seemed to be proven correct with Zobrist having a poor year where he looked every bit of his 36 years of age.

Still, Zobrist is just one year off of being a good major league player, a good defender at second, and every bit as versatile as he’s always been.  While he’s not officially on the trade block, the Cubs are nearing a bit of a roster crunch with Albert Almora staking a claim in CF and Ian Happ proving he should be an everyday player.  Unless the Cubs want to pay Zobrist big bucks to be a utility player, they may look to move him, and the team has been known to like Seth Lugo.  This isn’t saying that’s what gets it done for both sides.  Still, it’s interesting the Cubs have a player the Mets want, and the Mets have a player the Cubs want.  This could lead to trade discussions, and Sandy getting a player he has long coveted.

Overall, the Mets would be improved by getting anyone of these players, but that does not necessarily mean that is the best allocation of resources.  Given the contract length and what should be a relatively low sales price, it would seem Kinsler should be the Mets top target.  If the Mets had more talent available in their farm system, perhaps then you may be more willing to pursue a Kipnis or Harrison.

Mets Final Game An Allegory For The Season

Even though the Mets were well out of it, and there was literally nothing to play for in that final game of the season, there was some buzz to the final game of the season.  The reason why was Noah Syndergaard got the start.  He was great:

Syndergaard lasted just two innings striking out two while allowing no hits.  He would then leave the game.  This wasn’t his April 30th start against the Nationals.  No, this was planned.  Still, like this season once Syndergaard departed the pitchers who followed weren’t up to par, and the Mets chances of winning took a real hit.

Specifically, Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero imploded.  Flexen allowed five runs on six hits in just 1.1 innings.  Things would have been worse for him, but Kevin McGowan bailed him out striking out the final two batters of the inning.

It was then Montero’s turn to implode in the eighth with him allowing five runs on two hits and hit walks.  The low light was a Nick Williams inside-the-park homer.

In many ways, it was quite fitting the worst ERA in team history was clinched on an inside-the-park homer in a bandbox like Citizen’s Bank Park.

Those 11 Phillies runs would go unchallenged as the Mets could only muster two hits on the day.  One of them was by Gavin Cecchini, who was the only Mets player who had a decent day at the plate going 1-3 with a walk.  In many ways, that is a fitting end to the season.  Cecchini, a guy the Mets never gave much of a chance, performed well while the Mets favored players didn’t.

Like all of us, Terry Collins was ready for it all to end, and he just wanted to get out of there:

Game Notes: In what could be the last game of his career as a Met, Jose Reyes did not enter the game.