Gavin Cecchini

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.

Like Terry, I Checked Out Tonight

Entering tonight, the Mets were 65-84 and out of postseason contention. Terry Collins lineup started with Nori AokiJose ReyesAsdrubal Cabrera

Amed Rosario was scratched from the lineup with an upset stomach. For all we know, it happened when he saw the lineup. 
Even with all that, I still tuned it because Matt Harvey was the starting pitcher. Admittedly, I still believe he has a second act. He just needs to get healthy, get stronger, and figure things out.

Sadly, that wasn’t tonight. Sure, there were signs of improved velocity. He even had some movement on his fastball. His slider was the best we’ve probably seen it all season. 

It didn’t matter because he still hasn’t put it all together. A level of inconsistency remains. Perhaps, it is because he’s still not ready to be on the mound. 

That certainly became apparent when Giancarlo Stanton hit his 55th home run of the year to give the Marlins a 5-1 lead in the fourth. 

Actually, it wasn’t apparent to Collins who didn’t take Harvey out of the game. 

After allowing back-to-back singles to Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Aviles, Collins finally gave Harvey the hook. In four plus innings, Harvey threw 76 pitches. 

A combination of Tommy Milone and Hansel Robles would relieve Harvey in the fifth and throw gasoline all over the place. By the time the fifth inning was done, the Marlins led 12-1. 

Harvey’s final line was four innings, 12 hits, seven runs, seven earned, two walks, and two strikeouts. 

At this point, the Mets had no realistic hope of coming back in a season where the Mets are playing out the string. With the Giants playing a fairly important game against the Lions, I checked out on the Mets. 

Not too dissimilar from Collins who has abdicated his duties as manager by focusing on his dwindling chances to earn wins than to actually develop young players. 

Game Notes: Gavin Cecchini, who replaced Rosario in the starting lineup, knocked in the Mets lone run with a fourth inning RBI single. 

Mets Are Younger But This Is Ridiculous

With the Mets selling at the deadline, we saw them call up young players to begin building for the future.  That meant players like Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis GrandersonAddison Reed, and Neil Walker were gone.  In their stead are young players like Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Jamie Callahan, Jacob Rhame, Gavin CecchiniKevin McGowan, and Tomas Nido.  

With that, you knew the team was going to be young, but his young?

Wow.  I expected a younger group, but not ones that were dressed up in rompers like my then nine month old son.

It seems that with the Mets recent youth movement, my son is closer to majors than I initially believed:

 

deGrom Finally Gets Win Number 15

Back in 2012, when things were about as bad as they are right now, the most captivating moment of the season was R.A. Dickey and his push for 20 wins and a Cy Young.

Somewhat fittingly, Dickey was the starting pitcher for the Braves on a night when Jacob deGrom was going for a career high 15th win. 

This was deGrom’s third chance to get that 15th win. That’s two more than he had in 2015. In 2015, he would only pitch four scoreless innings before being taken out of the game so he would be ready for the postseason. Tonight, with the Mets playing for nothing else, he would go as long as he needed. 

deGrom would throw 101 pitches over seven innings. His final line would be 7.0 innings, five hits, one runs, one earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts. 

The one run deGrom allowed was a Freddie Freeman sixth inning solo homer because it’s Freeman. With that homer, the only question was whether the Mets would score enough runs. 

Tonight, deGrom got the requisite run support and then some thanks to the Mets offense exploding for seven runs thanks to the Mets young hitters. 

The standouts were Brandon Nimmo (1-3, 2 R, 2B, BB, RBI), Dominic Smith (2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI), and Gavin Cecchini (3-3, 2B, 2 RBI). 

The scoring began with a two run second started by back-to-back singles by Smith and Travis d’Arnaud. They’d score on a pair of Juan Lagares and Cecchini RBI singles. 

This would prove to be enough, but the Mets offense would keep on clicking. 

A trio of doubles in the third (Nori Aoki, Nimmo, and Asdrubal Cabrera) would make it 4-0. 

The doubles would continue. A fourth inning Cecchini double scored Lagares, and a seventh inning Smith double plated it two more to make it 7-1. 

After deGrom exited with a six run lead, it was time for the Mets bullpen to hold the lead. After the Cubs series, it was far from a guarantee. 

Jeurys Familia alleviated some of the tension pitching a scoreless eighth. 

Not leaving anything to chance, Terry Collins went to AJ Ramos in the ninth to protect the lead. After a typical stressful Ramos inning, the Mets would win 7-3, and deGrom would finally have his 15th win. 

deGrom winning his 15th is a big highlight in a terrible season much like Dickey winning 20 in 2012. Hopefully, prosperity will soon follow much like it did after Dickey’s magical season. 

Game Notes: On Smith’s seventh inning double, Gary Cohen referred to him as Lucas Duda

Improved Montero Can’t Get Out Of Fifth

After you get your brains beat out like the Mets did in Chicago, you want your ace taking the mound. The good news is the Mets had their ace taking the mound. The bad news is that their ace has become Rafael Montero

That’s no slight on Montero, who had pitched much better of late. It’s more of an indictment on the Mets starting pitching staff who has the second worst ERA in the majors. 

Tonight, Montero regressed a bit needing 108 pitches to get through 4.2 innings. It harkened back to the days when he couldn’t put anyone away. On the flip side, he only walked two batters. With Montero only pitching 4.2 innings, he didn’t qualify for a win. 

He also didn’t qualify for a win because he reliqushed the lead in that turbulent fifth inning. 

The Mets had the lead partially because Dominic Smith continued flashing his extra base power. In the fourth, he doubled home Asdrubal Cabrera to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. 

The Mets first run was scored in the third on a Jose Reyes groundout scoring Gavin Cecchini

Cecchini got the rare start partially due to Amed Rosario missing tonight’s game with a hip injury which forced him out of last night’s game. Cecchini took advantage of the opportunity going 1-3 with a run and a double. He was also good at second showing range and helping start a double play. 

Despite Cecchini playing well defensively, it was defense that cost the Mets this game. 

The game winning rally started in the fifth when Brandon Nimmo misread a ball cutting in on a David Freitas liner. Hard to say it would have been an out with the correct read, but with Freitas’ speed, Nimmo might’ve been able to limit him to a single. 

Freitas would score on a Ender Inciarte game tying single. Inciarte then put himself in scoring position with a stolen base. With his speed and Kevin Plawecki‘s arm, it really was only a matter of time before Inciarte stole that base. 

After that stolen base, Montero walked Ozzie Albies. Worse yet, Montero threw a wild pitch during Freddie Freeman‘s at bat putting runners on second and third with one out. Freeman was then intentionally walked bringing Lane Adams to the plate. 

Adams hit a sinking line drive that Nimmo made a great play on:

It was a great play, but it was also a sacrifice fly giving the Braves a 3-2 lead. 

The Mets would rally in the eighth staring with a two out Cabrera walk. After a Plawecki single, the tying run was in scoring position for Smith, the team’s leading RBI guy since he call-up. Unfortunately, he didn’t deliver. 

With that, the Mets had a rather mundane 3-2 loss against the Braves.  The real hope in watching this game is that Smith continues to hit for power, and Cecchini builds off of this game. 
Game Recap: In addition to Rosario, Travis d’Arnaud sat a day after being lifted from a game. It is possible he was going to sit anyway with Plawecki having served as Montero’s personal catcher of late. 

One Last Drive

In life, we tend to get attached to and attribute meaning to bizarre things. Today, that was my car. 

Now, I hated that car. From day one, it was a nightmare. I sank more money into it than I care to admit. Driving into bad neighborhoods time and again, it was constantly dinged and scratched. Tires blown. Dents in the car. Really, I hated it. 

But you know what I didn’t hate?  All the great things I did with the car. 

What started out as a car I purchased to commute to and from work became the family car.

It was the car I drive with my wife to Pre-Cana. The day after our wedding, my wife and I drove home for the first time.  

I drove that car with my then infant son to and from doctors appointments.  That includes when I had to take him for emergency room visits, and one day his surgery. 

We took that car to take him for his first day of school, his first Mets game, his ice skating classes, soccer practice, and on family vacations. We drove that car to places where we would share some of our favorite memories as a family. We drove that car everywhere. 

Every so often, he liked to get in the front seat and pretend to drive just like his daddy:


I didn’t realize it at first, but there were hints of all those moments scattered throughout the car. I realized this as I cleaned it out today so I could trade it in for the new family car. In some ways, it felt like a moment right out of The Wonder Years

As we cleaned out the car, there were remnants of these events. Just like we had done a thousand times, we listened to the Mets game on the radio. 

You couldn’t pick a more appropriate starter than Rafael Montero. First terrible, but now you see him in a whole new light. 

This is because Montero has been a much better pitcher of late. We saw it again from him today. He cruised through five innings allowing just the one run. 

It was the sixth he got into trouble. Like his last start, he put his bullpen into a tough situation handing them a bases loaded one out situation. Unlike AJ RamosPaul Sewald, who hadn’t pitched in eight days due to some physical issues, allowed all the inherited runners to score. 

Fortunately, it didn’t matter much because the Mets offense exploded against Mark Leiter

Most of the damage came in a six run fourth inning. Even with him not hitting lead-off, Brandon Nimmo got it all started with a single. Four hits, including a Juan Lagares double and Gavin Cecchini  RBI single, and an error later the Mets were up 9-0, and the Phillies brought in Kevin Siegrist

After Siegrist issued a couple of walks, Nimmo capped off the inning with an RBI single. That single gave the Mets a then 10-0 lead. 

It proved to be an insurmountable lead. That was true even for the hurt Sewald and Hansel Robles, who had another adventurous outing. 

It was the Robles outing that had me sitting in my car just a little longer. I sat in my car a little longer like I had done several times in the past. Except this time was the last time in this car. 

As Ramos got Rhys Hoskins to fly out to end the game, I had the last memory in that car. It was a rather small one, but a memory nevertheless. 

It’s now time for a new car with new family memories. This will be the car I take my next son home from the hospital in. It’ll be the car I take to drive him to his first Mets game. Hopefully, it will be the car I drive to see the Mets in their next World Series. 

Game Notes: Kevin Plawecki was 2-4 with two runs and a stolen base. 

Wilmer Flores Is Not A Third Baseman, He’s A Second Baseman

Long before the two errors Wilmer Flores made last night, he had already established he is not a Major League third baseman.  What is most troublesome is there is not just one thing you can pinpoint as the main reason why he struggles there.  It is also why he’s probably not redeemable there.

First and foremost, people will point to his throwing.  In his career, Flores has played 1,007.2 innings at third base.  In those innings, he has made a total of 16 errors; 12 of which were throwing errors.  This doesn’t even account for the numerous times he’s thrown offline preventing the team from turning a double play, or his inability to throw out speedy base runners on bunt plays and slow rollers.

However, it’s more than that.  Looking at the advanced metrics, Flores’ play at third base is just unacceptable.  He has a -17 DRS and a -3.5 UZR at the position.  He converts just 93.6% of routine plays at the position.

No matter the statistic you choose, Flores just cannot handle the position.  That’s not his fault.  Different players are ill-suited to different positions.  That was made clear when Jose Reyes, a player who seemingly had the range and arm strength to excel at third base, struggled there this season.

So no, Flores isn’t to blame.  The people to blame are the Mets for continuously trotting him out there this year.

On the surface, it is fine to play Flores everyday to let him prove he is capable of being an everyday player at the Major League level.  However, if you are really interested in seeing him succeed, you need to give him a fair shot at a position he can actually play.

Flores’ best defensive position is first base, but he is blocked there by Dominic Smith‘s presence.  His next best position is second base.  As Flores has shown in his career, he can actually handle that position.

In 667.0 innings at second, Flores has a -7 DRS and a 0.3 UZR.  In his time there, he has only committed four errors (two fielding, two throwing).  He has converted 99% of routine plays at the position.

Despite second being Flores best opportunity to be an everyday player, the Mets refuse to play him there.  If the team was giving a shot to Gavin Cecchini, it would be understandable.  However, Cecchini’s been stapled to the bench.  Rather, the Mets continue to trot Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera out to second base.

Therefore, rather than letting Flores show himself to be what he’s worth, the Mets would rather play two players who played large roles in torpedoing this season at second.  The Mets would rather Flores fail to see two players who should not be considered major contributors in 2018 get playing time.  It makes no sense.

Yes, we know Flores will never be a Gold Glover.  The hope always has been and continues to be he will hit enough to justify playing him everyday.  However, that scenario only works if Flores is playing a position he can actually play.  We already know he can’t play third.  It’s time to stop playing him there and move him to second base.

Why Bother Playing When You’re Not Developing Players?

In a four game series against the Washington Nationals, here was the allocation of games started among the Mets infielders:

The focus isn’t where it needs to be.  Once again, the Mets are failing to develop their young players.  Previously, the excuse was you can’t develop young players when you’re trying to win a World Series.  This team isn’t winning a World Series, and still, we are not seeing young players in the lineup getting the time they need to develop.

Terry Collins isn’t letting Smith play against left-handed batters.  He’s bouncing Flores around the infield instead of giving him a place to focus on and improve.  He puts Reyes atop the lineup whenever he gets an opportunity rather than let Brandon Nimmo establish himself as a Major Leauge lead-off hitter.  The list goes on and on and on . . . .

Hopefully, the Mets find out what they need to know about this Cabrera and Reyes. Hopefully, they take full advantage of the development time, and they show they are ready to be the big pieces for the Mets over the next decade.

Terry Collins Double Switches His Way to Double-Header Split

This was one of those days that makes you question why exactly the Mets are sticking with Terry Collins right now?  

He’s eschewing developing young players like Dominic Smith, but he makes sure to get Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera in the lineup. 

He also continues to make just poor decisions with his pitching. If you didn’t know any better, you’d expect Collins gets paid by the bullpen move, and he gets paid double for each double switch. 

He really pressures his pitching staff. Today, Collins took that to an absurd level. 

Even knowing Seth Lugo would be limited to 75 pitches in the second game of the double header, Collins ripped through his bullpen. 

Part of that was Tommy Milone only lasting 4.1 innings. The bigger part of that was Collins managing the game like it was Game 7 of the World Series to try to protect a five run lead. 

What was really irritating was Collins first ripped through the guys who could give him multiple innings – Hansel RoblesRafael Montero, and Josh Smoker. The trio combined to pitch one inning with 35 pitches. 

With all Collins histrionics, the Mets still blew the 5-0 lead. They got there because Cabrera and Flores hit a pair of homers. 

With the Mets blowing the lead, they needed another homer. Amed Rosario came through with an eighth inning homer off Joe Blanton

The Mets would hold onto the 6-5 lead with AJ Ramos getting the sixth out save to preserve the rare Mets Sunday win. Of course, to get the rare win, you needed a play you rarely if ever see. 

With Adam Lind getting the two out single to extend the game, Edwin Jackson pinch ran for him with Daniel Murphy coming to the plate as the go-ahead run. 

Murphy ripped a liner above a leaping Cabrera. Travis Taijeron, who had some on in one of the multitude of double switches, overran the ball, and Jackson broke towards home. 

Juan Lagares adeptly backup up Taijeron on the play. He then made a strong throw to Cabrera, who in turn, made a strong throw  to Travis d’Arnaud. With the tag, the Mets cut down Jackson, and the Mets won the game on your typical 9-8-4-2 put out. 
After this game, the question was whether the Mets pitching staff had enough bullets left to pull out a win in the nightcap. The answer was a resounding no.

The Mets had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the second game.  

Lagares knocked in the first run on an RBI double. He then came home to score on a Brandon Nimmo two run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. It was short-lived. 

After Lugo went 3.2 innings allowing two runs, Smoker came on, and he kept the Nationals at bay in his 1.1 innings of work. 

Then came Robles in his second appearance on the day. After getting a Murphy line out, the Nationals had a runner on first with one out. 

Robles continued by walking the first four batters allowing the Nationals to not only tie the game, but also take a lead. On the bright side, Collins double-switched Smith out of the game meaning he was willing to sacrifice development to win this one game. 

Things could’ve been worse, but Chasen Bradford enduced Howie Kendrick to hit into the inning ending 4-4-3 double play. 

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Erik Goeddel pitched the eighth, and Lind took him deep to give the Nationals a 5-3 lead. The insurance run loomed large with the Mets rallying in the ninth off Sean Doolittle

d’Arnaud led off with a pinch hit single, and Gavin Cecchini singled to move d’Arnaud to second. With a 0-2 count, Reyes dropped a single right in front of Taylor allowing d’Arnaud to score to pull the Mets within one. 

The tomfoolery ended with a Lagares line out to Alejandro De Aza

Collins did everything he could to win both ends of the double header even if it meant eschewing his main responsibility right now- developing players. He didn’t care what he did to the bullpen. For all that effort, he just had a split to show for it. 

Game Notes: Kevin McGowan was activated for the second half double-header as the 26th man. He would not pitch.