Michael Conforto

Should Mets Go Down Thunder Road?

Despite my assertions to the contrary, the Mets did make a trade, which is significant in more ways than one.  After missing out on Parra, the Mets moved onto Michael Conforto. Now, supposedly the Mets are in on Jay Bruce

Before discussing the cost, we should first consider if the Mets should trade for him. This year in a hitter’s park, Bruce is hitting .258/.341/.484 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI. He is a career .252/.325/.468 hitter. In limited playoff action, he’s hit .258/.361./.516. He 28 years old and is signed through next season with a $13 million team option ($1 million buy out). Translation: he’s a good baseball player on a reasonable contract. He helps this team immensely. 

Yes, he is better than Michael Conforto right now. To suggest otherwise is nonsense. Conforto has been terrific since his call-up, but he’s not the player of the caliber of Bruce right now. You can send down Conforto to AAA, and he will have been better for the experience. Plus, Conforto can come up in September and a possibility as a bench bat in the playoffs (God willing). 

Now, is he worth the cost of Zack Wheeler?  Honestly, I don’t know. For his career, he has an ERA+ of 100, meaning he’s an average pitcher, with a FIP of 3.77, which again suggests he’s an average pitcher. However, Tommy John surgery or not, he’s a 24 year old power pitcher who is not arbitration eligible until 2017 and cannot become a free agent until 2020. 

Is two years of Jay Bruce worth five years of Zack Wheeler?  I’m not sure, but I lean towards yes because flags fly forever. There is an open window here and a real chance to win the World Series within the next three years (at least). Now, if the Reds want another substantial piece from the Mets, I walk. Flags may fly forever, but you want to be competitive for a long time. 

Let’s hope this deal gets done because we need the return of this song to be heard in New York again. I think it’ll sound good for a Bruce Blast, don’t you?  

Collins with the Right Mix

In his heart of hearts, Terry Collins is an old school manager. You reward players with playing time. If you don’t do your job, take a seat on the bench. This team, while imperfect, is perfect for Collins. 

Now, players will have to earn playing time. Before, Collins was throwing just praying that whatever buttons he hit would produce a run. This is not to disparage Collins. While I sometimes question his in game moves (like using Familia in the ninth tonight instead of Logan Verrette or Alex Torres) nothing that has happened with the offense thus far is his fault. 

However, the pressure is all on him now.  This team has interchangeable parts with limitations. He really only has three good defensive players: Juan LagaresJuan Uribe, and Lucas Duda. There are only four players with an OPS over .700: Duda, Granderson, Johnson, and Uribe (even if there are problems with OPS calculation). For most of the season, the problem was how to get blood from a stone. Now, it is don’t screw it up. Saturday night was a great start to say the least. The Mets only scored the most amount of runs they scored in Citi Field. 

I’d argue the most important development was Duda’s two HR game. For most people, present company included, Duda’s problems were lack of lineup protection and the weight of carrying this team.  If Saturday night is any measure, the pressure is off, and he’s back to being the middle of the order threat the Mets need. 

A very close second was Comforto’s night. Remember the old adage: sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make?  Well, if the Mets got Parra, Conforto is still in AA. Conforto looks ready  this is confirmed by his 4-4 game with 4 runs scored and an RBI. On a night like tonight, I’ll give the Mets the benefit of the doubt that Conforto needed those minor league ABs. 

The third important development was Kelly Johnson and Daniel Murphy getting the start and taking advantage of the opportunity. Both players homered and gave Collins no reason to take them out of the lineup. It was also a smart move for Collins to get Uribe in the game. It was also good to see Uribe get a hit. 

The rest was gravy. Matt Harvey was Matt Harvey. Apparently now, he’s a real threat at the plate with three consecutive multiple RBI games. Nieuwenhuis seems to be hitting again. The Mets finally beat up on weak pitching. There seemed to be a different energy to this club and to the ballpark. There was a lot to like. 

However, we need to reserve judgment until tomorrow when Zack Greinke takes the mound. If the Mets get some runs off of him tomorrow, they really do have something. The Mets have a chance tomorrow not only because they’re throwing deGrom, but also because they have eight legitimate bats (sorry nine tomorrow) in the lineup. Lets Go Mets!

Oh Baby!

Let’s face facts – Jon Niese should not have started this game. His wife was in labor, and he must’ve been distracted. We all know he gets easily distracted and frustrated when things don’t go his way. When there’s a missed call or error, you know a big inning is coming. 

I don’t blame Niese for being distracted this time. Every Dad becomes apprehensive when their wife goes into labor. I couldn’t imagine being a 10 hour drive away when my wife went into labor. I’m genuinely happy he was able to watch the birth via Facetime. I even forgive his three inning, six run performance. 

However, I don’t let the Mets off the hook because they eliminated whatever advantage they had as Zach missing the start to attend the birth of his baby boy. The Mets should’ve planned ahead and had Logan Verrette with the club. Once Niese’s wife went into labor, Niese could’ve been put on the paternity list and Verrette could’ve started the game. If they did not want to go that route, Carlos Torres should’ve started the game and went as far as he could go. 

Overall, i applaud the MLB and the MLBPA for the paternity leave policy. I think Dads should be able to attend their child’s birth. It is one of the few events you don’t get back. Even in the best case scenarios, the mothers need help; especially from the Dad. 

I think fans forget that players aren’t around as often to see their kids grow up. Yes, they make ungodly amounts of money, but they’re also human. We shouldn’t take these first few days away from them. 

Personally, I remember soon after my son was born, I had to go out of state on business It was hard for me to leave, and it was even harder in my wife (even though my mom was over to help).  I know I should’ve left the day before, but I didn’t. I know I should’ve stayed overnight, but I didn’t. I had a 23 hour day where I drove in the snow both ways. Why?  I couldn’t stand to be away from the two of them. Now how am I going to get on a ball player who feels the same and just wants or needs a day or two?

Oh by the way, Michael Conforto became the Mets’ 1,000 player and went 0-3 with an RBI. He looks like he belongs. 

Anyway, congratulations are in order to the Niese and Greinke family. I hope the Mets new additions of Conforto, Uribe, and Johnson bring Mets fans 1/10 of the happiness those families feel today. 

Calling Up Conforto is a Bad Omen but I Love it Anyway

The Mets have finally put Michael Cuddyer on the DL and called-up Michael Conforto. It’s about time. Cuddyer has been injured for almost a month, and Conforto has done nothing but rake.

After last night’s debacle, the Mets front office probably felt like there was no other choice. I believe that Conforto will be the everyday star in the Mets lineup (albeit maybe not immediately) to match the five aces they will have in the rotation next year. I look forward to my son and I wearing Conforto jerseys in the next few years as the Mets make a push to win a World Series. Even with all that excitement I’m feeling right now, there is something pulling me back a bit.

I believe what is pulling me back is that this is a strong indication that the Mets can’t or won’t do anything on the trade market. In yesterday’s press conference, Sandy Alderson said the Mets have money to spend, but the media reports sing a different tune. Right now, the thing that sticks with me the most is that Sandy Alderson, the team’s GM, seemed to be against calling up Conforto. His quote at Thursday’s press conference was, “[o]ne of the considerations is that most young players who come up to the big leagues aren’t terribly successful in the short term . . . .” His words; not mine. Now, however, after almost getting no-hit and a fan mutiny seemingly coming to fruition, the Mets make a move they were reportedly against making. If the Mets didn’t want him to have the weight of being the savior, they chose an awful time to call him up. The Mets offer this move as an olive branch. However, I think this olive branch has a red herring on it.

Mets want us to run to the ballpark to see him. My Dad did that with me with Darryl Strawberry was called up. I did the same with my son when Steven Matz was called-up. However, I’m not so sure about running to the ballpark this time. The Mets have saved a lot of money this season with Wright’s unfortunate injury and Mejia’s suspension. They’re not putting that money back into this team that has a rotation that could win a World Series. How could I justify spending my money on a team that won’t spend the hard earned cash I give them?

Overall, I am ecstatic about Michael Conforto, and I cannot wait to see him put on his #30 tonight. I look forward to the first at-bat of what I hope is a long and prosperous Mets career. Welcome to the majors Michael Conforto.

Kershaw Must Be Embarassed

Look, Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet right now, and he could shut out the ’27 Yankees. Last night, the Mets trotted out a lineup that isn’t even as good as the  ’62 Mets. The Mets had three position players in the lineup below the Mendoza line. In all seriousness, Kershaw has to be kicking himself for not getting the perfect game. 

Sadly, after Thursday’s press conference, I don’t think anyone in the Mets front office is kicking themselves for letting the season slip away. Earlier this year, New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro stated the Mets were committing malpractice. He was being kind. This is either incompetence or indifference. Considering the skills of the front office people, I believe it’s the later.

I understand putting Michael Cuddyer out there when he wasn’t producing. You have to assume he will eventually revert back to form. Furthermore, the Mets roster is shallower than the Caddy Shack pool. Only this tIme, that’s not a Baby Ruth. Rather, it’s a bench complete with players under the Mendoza Line. 

Cuddyer has been hurt since June 30th. At the time, Cuddyer knew it was bad. It’s almost a full month later, and he’s still not in the DL. In St. Louis, he couldn’t play a full game. The Mets tell us they have money and are looking to make moves, but it simply just isn’t true. Also, we keep hearing Michael Conforto isn’t ready and Kyle Schwarber is an outlier. He might be. He might not be. Regardless, they have to try something. They’ve effectively been playing with a 24 man roster for a month!

This loss is strictly on Sandy Alderson. We criticize players who make a gaff and don’t make themselves available to reporters. Sandy hides behind Terry every game. That, like his roster, is embarrassing . . . almost as embarrassing as Kershaw letting up three hits tonight. 

Kazmir Continues to Haunt Mets Fans

Scott Kazmir is in the news again, and yet again, it makes Mets fans want to tear their hair out. First, he was inexplicably traded for Victor Zambrano. Then, we were enlightened how the Mets drafting of Kazmir symbolized yet again how bad the Mets front office was. Now, he’s the first player traded at a time when Mets fans have been begging the front office to do anything to help this offense. 

It’s also notable this trade was completed by fellow 1962 expansion franchise Houston Astros. Much like the Astros, the Mets are competing ahead of schedule. Unlike the Mets, the Astros have made a move AND maybe looking to make more. Mets fans hear they won’t pick the remaining portion of Ben Zobrist’s salary. It’s disheartening. However, the good news is that apparently the market was set low with only lower-end A ball prospects being traded. 

Maybe this trade will launch the Mets into action. There are already rumblings Michael Conforto will be called-up. I suspect they may start being tied to some players. Hopefully, they can pull the trigger on a deal. 

What’s Really Going on with Conforto?

Yesterday, I made two posts detailing why the Mets should call-up Michael Conforto if Michael Cuddyer finally lands on the DL (the posts can be found here and here).  Since these posts were made, the reporting on him has been all over the place (trust me when I say I’m not implying a cause and effect). Here is what the various news outlets have to say about Conforto:

The New York Post reports the Mets are thinking about calling up Conforto. 

The New York Daily News reports the Mets are leaning towards calling up Conforto on Thursday. 

Newsday reports a Conforto call-up is unlikely, but that may change if Cuddyer goes to the DL. 

Similarly, the Star Ledger reports the Mets will consider calling up Conforto if Cuddyer is placed on the DL. 

Adam Rubin reports the Mets the Mets are kicking around the idea of calling up Conforto I’d Cuddyer lands on the DL although “internal dissension remains.”

From my reading of the tea leaves, it appears the Mets are really hoping Cuddyer wakes up one day with a miraculously healed knee. They’re also hoping to add an OF without giving up much in return. Overall, they’re kicking the ball down the road before they are forced to make a tough decision. 

As a Mets fan, I do appreciate they are taking this seriously. The pitching is here. Next year, there will be even more pitching. We just need the hitting. I believe Conforto is ready to contribute (but not necessarily dominate). If the Mets feel differently, that’s fine, but they have to do something here. 

Michael Conforto is not Miguel Cabrera but . . .

Michael Conforto has raked everywhere he has played, whether it was Oregon State University or the minor leagues.  He’s such an advanced prospect that Keith Law predicted before the season Conforto would be ready to be called up by August 2015.  When Keith Law has had a chance to back off a bit, he hasn’t; in fact, he has stated with the current state of the Mets, Conforto is their best option (yes, I linked to him answering my question on Twitter – it’s my blog).  While he acknowledged its a big jump, he did seem to believe Conforto could handle it.  Before dismissing this opinion, remember Keith Law is highly qualified to speak about baseball.

I bring this up because the Mets believe Michael Conforto  lacks minor league experience.  Right now, Conforto has played in 130 games and has had 574 plate appearances.  Specifically, he has played in 42 games with 182 plate appearance at Binghamton.  In Binghamton, the 22 year old Conforto has a triple slash line of .325/.407/.531.  No matter how you slice or dice it, these are great numbers.  These are Herculean when you keep in mind that he would be replacing the combined .169/.236/.344 of Nieuwenhuis and Mayberry.  Drastic times call for drastic actions.  Without a trade on the horizon, calling up Conforto would be the drastic move the Mets need to make.

It reminds me of 2003 when the Florida Marlins won the World Series.  Much like the Mets, the Marlins were mostly talented but not expected to really compete.  However, they fired their manager and replaced him with Jack McKeon.  While Trader Jack was the Marlins manager, one of the moves the Marlins made was to call up Miguel Cabrera.  The reason he was called-up?  The Marlins felt they “a little spark on the offensive side.”  At the time of his call-up, the 19 year old Miguel Cabrera had played in 69 AA games with a triple slash line of .365/.429/.609.  When he was called up, he was the clean-up hitter on the team.

Looking at the above-information, there are a few things you can conclude: (1) the Mets LF situation is dire; (2) Cabrera is better than Conforto; (3) the 2003 Marlins were better than the 2015 Mets; (4) you can call a young player up in a pressure filled situation; and (5) that young player can succeed.  Now, Keith Law never said Conforto was Miguel Cabrera, nor am I.  Seriously, who is?  Cabrera is an offensive machine.  He was so good he hit a HR off of Roger Clemens in the World Series.  The way the Mets offense is playing right now, the Mets won’t even get a chance to make the postseason.

I’m not asking him to be a “savior.”  I just want someone competent. At this point in the season, this shouldn’t even be an issued. Furthermore, the Mets have no one but themselves to blame. They built a roster with no depth. They failed to make a move earlier, even when we all knew it had to be made. Now, they have two choices: (1) roll the dice with Conforto or (2) average 2.83 runs per game and miss the playoffs. 

Lessons of Keith Hernandez’s Career

Keith Hernandez’s baseball career was one struggle after the next. First, it was his early hitting problems leading to a demotion. Then it was his clashes with Whitey Herzog leading to his trade to the Mets. Then it was the Pittsburgh drug trials where he was called to testify. However, despite all of this hardship, Keith Hernandez was the 1979 MVP, has won 11 Gold Gloves, and was part of two World Series Championship teams.

Now, I’m sure Keith Hernandez was devastated when he struggled in the majors and needed to be sent down. Keith does credit Ken Boyer with finally giving him the confidence he needed to succeed in the majors. However, Keith was a special major league talent. Overall, you could argue these early career struggles helped Keith deal with adversity. This was a good thing because he would face real adversity later in his career and he overcame it. So much so, in the eyes of many, Keith was a Hall of Fame caliber player.

I bring this up because one of the reasons the Mets state they do not want to put too much pressure on him and believe it would be devastating if he fails. As Keith Hernandez shows, if you’re a special player, you will have a successful career; no matter how much you struggle on your way there. In fact, you could argue the struggles help make you a better player (just look at Sandy Koufax’s early career). I’m not saying Conforto isn’t the answer. He may very well come up and struggle. With the Mets being where they are, they really can’t afford any more players to struggle offensively. You know what else they can’t afford? More of the same.

If Cuddyer can play, I’ll back off. Despite his struggles, Cuddyer is a major league caliber player, who is less than a season removed from being an effective major league hitter. However, if Cuddyer cannot be more than a PH/DH or he needs to be put on the DL, the Mets should call up Conforto. What’s the worst that could happen? What if he had a triple slash line of .169/.236/.344? Well guess what? That is the combined 2015 triple slash line of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and John Mayberry, Jr.. These are the players that will most likely platoon left field until Cuddyer is healthy or the Mets make a trade.

Therefore, if you are not willing or able to make a trade to improve left field, and Cuddyer isn’t responding to treatment, the Mets have little other choice than to call-up Conforto.

 

 

Realistic Immediate Moves

The Mets offense is officially offensive. As I tweeted last night, their runs per game is as follows:

April 4.35 runs per game

May 3.54 runs per game

June 2.96 runs per game

July 2.87 runs per game. 

This is unsustainable and had led to a -16 run differential. Things need to be fixed quickly to reverse these trends or the Mets run the risk of letting the season get away. For the purposes of this post, I’ll take the front office at face value and assume a trade can’t be competed just yet. Also, I’m not going to waste my breath here about bringing Conforto up to the majors (that’s for another time). The front office has made it clear he’s not getting called up. However, that does not mean something can’t be done now. 

First: Transfer Wright to the 60 day disabled list. He’s been gone for 60 days already. Not putting him on the 60 day DL is roster mismanagement. Once Wright is put on the 60 day DL, the Mets can call up someone not in the 40 man roster. 

Second: Call up Matt Reynolds (he’s not on the 40 man roster) and install him as the everyday SS. Let’s face it – since the day the Mets refused to resign Reyes, Tejada had been given several chances to become the everyday SS and failed. In this latest attempt, he had a triple slash line of .255/.322/.360 and a UZR of 0.8, i.e. he is bad at the plate and average in the field. CORRECTION: after posting this I learned Matt Reynolds is on the 7 day DL

Reynolds had a triple slash line of .270/.327/.410. I wasn’t able to find his UZR information, but scouts seem optimistic on his defense. If Reynolds minor league stats carry over, the Mets improve the SS position and the bench. If they don’t translate (the PCL is a hitter’s league after all), he had a cup of coffee. It’s not like his production would be so bad as to justify carrying Eric Campbell on the roster (side note: I’m sorry because Campbell works hard and really tries to help the team).  I know Reynolds isn’t on the 40 man roster, but so what?  Are you really afraid of losing 

Third: Outright Alex Torres and recall Logan Verrett. This would leave the Mets with only one lefty in the pen, Sean Gilmartin, who is not a LOOGY. However, Torres isn’t effective against lefties. Lately, he hadn’t been effective at all. In a small sample size, Verrett has been largely effective for the Mets. 

Fourth: Recall Dilson Herrera, bench Wilmer Flores, and release John Mayberry, Jr. In his last 10 games, Herrera is hitting .359 with a .390 OBP. He’s hot. Flores has been bad defensively and at the plate. However, he does have some pop in his bat and could be an effective PH. To make room for Herrera, Mayberry should be released. He just hasn’t hit. He’s taking up a valuable roster spot right now. 

Fifth: Call up Travis Taijeron and send down Danny Muno. I know I joked yesterday about Taijeron and the Mets need for more minor leaguers. However, this post is seeking drastic measures to help this team, which is best done by eliminating most of the bench. This season Taijeron’s triple slash is an eye opening .271/.395/.523. Why hasn’t he been called up?  Well he is not a highly thought of prospect having been drafted in the 11th round in 2011. Why send down Muno?  He’s bad at baseball. Travis Taijeron is not in the 40 man roster, but I am comfortable exposing Wilfredo Tovar to waivers. 

With all the machinations, the Mets have mostly retooled their bench (except Nieuwenhuis and Recker) and they find out what they have in Reynolds and Taijeron. Also, it creates a spot for with Nimmo or Conforto in AAA and possibly Gavin Cecchini as well. Maybe I’m wrong, but at least this is something.