Ty Kelly

Bring Back Ruben Tejada

In what was presumably a cost-cutting measure, the Mets released Ruben Tejada during Spring Training. As a result, the Mets started the season with Eric Campbell on the Opening Day roster and suspect organizational depth behind him.

When Lucas Duda went down with a stress fracture in his low back, the Mets depth issues were exposed. Campbell has started in 14 of the Mets past 18 games. He’s hitting .182 on the season. The only reason why he’s playing every day is because Wilmer Flores is on the DL and the Mets other two options, Matt Reynolds and Ty Kelly, are even more underwhelming than Campbell. The Mets needs to get better and soon.

The obvious, and most likely answer, is Flores, once he comes off the DL. Assuming he does turn around his thus far disappointing season and take over the first base job in Duda’s absence, the Mets still need to replace his role as super sub. The Mets still need someone who can play semi-regularly at third when David Wright sits. Campbell, Reynolds, and Kelly are not the answer. None of them are capable major league starters. None of them are as good as Tejada.

As per ESPN’s Mark Saxson, Tejada was designated for assignment by the Cardinals giving them 10 days to trade him, release him, put him on waivers, or outright him to the minors (which he could refuse). Therefore, there’s a 10 day window (or more) where Tejada is available. The Mets should re-acquire him.

If Tejada were to come back, the Mets bench would be drastically improved. In his last two years with the Mets, he averaged 118 games while hitting .249/.340/.330. He played second, third, and short. While working with Kevin Long last year, he hit .287/.362/.362 in the second half. He wrestled the starting shortstop position away from Flores, the same Flores the Mets are relying upon heavily this year.

This year, the Mets don’t need Tejada to take over the shortstop position. Instead, the Mets need to strengthen their bench with capable major league players. The only obstacle to adding Tejada would be money, and at the prorated amount of $1.5 million, which was half of the contract the Mets had tendered him, money shouldn’t be an obstacle. No, there are no reasonable excuses for the Mets to pass on Tejada.

Tejada will soon need a place to play, and the Mets need major league players. The Mets should bring back Tejada.

Good Luck Dario Alvarez

Dario Alvarez we hardly knew ye. Due to necessary roster machinations due a number of Mets injuries, including but not limited to Lucas Duda‘s stress fracture, Alvarez was put on waivers to make room for Ty Kelly. On Wednesday, Alvarez was claimed by the Braves

Alvarez’s line highlight was in his first game last year. On September 7th, the Mets were four games up in the division with a three game set in Washington. The Mets and Nationals were tied 5-5 in the sixth inning, and soon to be named MVP Bryce Harper stepped to the plate. Terry Collins summoned Alvarez. Alvarez battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out Harper. When the Mets scored three in the top of the seventh, Alvarez would earn his first career win. 

After the Mets had gone through Jerry Blevins (injury), Josh Edgin (injury), Jack Leathersich (Wally Backmaned), Alex Torres (terrible), and Eric O’Flaherty (words cannot describe how bad he was), it seemed like the Mets finally found their LOOGY. It turns out they didn’t. Alvarez hurt his groin soon thereafter. He tried to come back, but he wasn’t effective. The Mets went to Jon Niese for the postseason. 

Coming into this season, Alvarez wasn’t given much of a chance to make the team. Blevins was brought back on a one year, and Antonio Bastardo was signed to a two year deal. With Edgin’s impending return from Tommy John surgery, Alvarez was once again buried on the depth chart. Unfortunately, exposing him to waivers made sense. That still doesn’t mean the Mets won’t miss him. He was further buried last year, and he still made an impact. 

It’s impressive Alvarez even got that far. He was a failed Phillies prospect who was released in 2009. Four years later, the Mets signed him to a minor league deal, and he reported to Brooklyn. Alvarez quickly worked his way through the the Mets minor league system. He was mostly powered by a very good slider. However, he could never quite break through and make the Mets roster. 

Now, he’s the Braves property, and he’s reported to AAA. Hopefully, he will get his chance soon. He’s earned it. 

Shades of 2015

Its astounding how much 2016 is paralleling 2015. This year, like last year, 46 games into the season, they trail the Nationals in the division. Interestingly enough, this is not where the parallels end.

Catcher

Last year and this year, Travis d’Arnaud had a significant injury forcing him to miss a significant period of time. This pressed Kevin Plawecki into assuming the starting catcher’s job, and he struggled. However, Plawecki kept on catching because his backup was a good defensive poor hitting catcher. Last year was Anthony Recker. This year it’s Rene Rivera.

Back Issues

Last year, the Mets faced the prospect of not knowing when or if David Wright could return due to his back problems. As a result, Eric Campbell played many more games than the Mets ever anticipated he would. The same thing is happening now as a result of Lucas Duda‘s stress fracture in his lower back.

Minor Leaguers Not Ready for the Majors

With the rash injuries last year, the Mets trotted out the likes of Daniel Muno and Darrell Ceciliani to try to fill in the gaps. It didn’t work. This year the Mets have pressed Matt Reynolds and Ty Kelly into action. Reynolds and Kelly are having similar difficulties.

Rotation Issues

Last year, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee were having the worst years of their careers thereby putting the pressure on the other starters. The Mets were stuck in a holding pattern about making a change as the obvious replacement, Noah Syndergaard, still needed a little more time. This year it is Matt Harvey struggling while the obvious replacement in the rotation, Zack Wheeler, still needs more time to get ready to pitch in the majors.

Colon Dependability 

At this point last year, Bartolo Colon was 7-3 with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.20  This year Colon is 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.  This year and last year the Mets have been able to count on Colon to take the ball every fifth day and give them a chance to win.

Mid 30’s Corner Outfielder

Through May 25th last year, Michael Cuddyer was hitting .250/.328/.372. This year Curtis Granderson is hitting .204/.304/.413. Like Cuddyer last year, the Mets are relying heavily on Granderson, and unfortunately, they are not getting the production they need from them.

Second Year Starter Stepping Up

Last year, Jacob deGrom went from Rookie of the Year to All Star.  He emerged as the ace of the staff. This year that honor belongs to Syndergaard. Syndergaard has been dominating on the mound like deGrom did last year. He’s a likely All Star, and he’s quickly become the staff’s ace. Honorable mention should go to Steven Matz here as well.

Call for the AA Prospect to Get Called Up

Last year with a rash of injuries and offensive ineptitude, Mets fans shouted from the rooftops that Michael Conforto should be called up to the majors from AA. This year the fans have begun the same with Dominic Smith due to Duda’s injury and Campbell playing there everyday.

Jeurys Familia

Last year, Famila was as dominant as anyone at the end of the game. He started the year a perfect 13/13 in save chances. This year Familia is back to his dominant form. He’s a perfect 16/16 in save chances. As in 2015, Familia is going to slam the door shut.

The Two Team Race

Last year the Braves were the upstarts that faltered. This year will be the Phillies. However, when the dust clears, this is really a two team race between the Mets and the Nationals for the NL East.

Just remember that no matter how bad things got last year, the Mets still won the division by seven games. This year the Mets have a much better team across the board. We may sometimes forget this when the Mets slump or have a couple of injuries. However, this is a much better Mets team that can win the division. This is still a World Series contender.  That’s the overriding lesson from 2015.

Darkness Filled This Knight

Any hopes of this being a Happy Harvey Day was shattered when Daniel Murphy launched a fifth inning two run homerun into the upper deck off of Matt Harvey making it a 5-1 game. Murphy really pimped that homerun too. 

It was the third homerun hit against Harvey on the night. Given Harvey’s pattern this year, it should come as no surprise that the first two homeruns were back-to-back shots by Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon. Overall, Harvey had another career worst night in what had been a nightmare of a season:

For the night, Harvey pitched five innings allowing eight hits, five earned, and two walks with a career worst one strikeout. He has an MLB worst 6.08 ERA. 

Unfortunately, Harvey didn’t get much help. The Mets 6-8 batters were Eric CampbellKevin PlaweckiTy Kelly. Kelly was making his debut with David Wright getting a scheduled day off. It’s hard to question Collins’ handling of Wright so far this year because it has been superb. With that said, if it was an either/or situation, it’s surprising he wouldn’t trot out his best possible lineup for a Harvey start; last night’s Wright homerun notwithstanding. 

With this lineup, it’s not much of a surprise that Stephen Strasburg had a good night. He pitched 6.2 innings allowing four hits, two earned, and two walks with 11 strikeouts. It should be noted that Strasburg found himself in the same shoes last year that Harvey finds himself now.  Strasburg finished last year going 6-2 with a 1.90 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP. This year he’s a sure fire All Star and an early Cy Young candidate with an 8-0 record with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. 

The Mets offense was an Asdrubal Cabrera homerun fourth inning homerun and a short lived rally in the seventh. The Mets had a first and third with no outs with the aforementioned Campbell-Plawecki-Kelly triumvirate due up. Campbell got an RBI ground out making it 5-2. Plawecki walked, and Kelly struck out. In his big league debut, Kelly was 0-4 with three strikeouts. Juan Lagares then pinch hit for Hansel Robles (who was great again), and he struck out against Felipe Rivero ending the rally. 

Any hopes that the Mets would come back were dashed by the bullpen. In consecutive innings Antonio Bastardo and Jim Henderson allowed solo homeruns. It snapped the Mets’ bullpens 16.2 inning scoreless inning streak.

Campbell hit a one-handed two run homerun in the ninth (yes you read that right) to make it 7-4. That would be the final score.  It wasn’t really that close, but it was just one game, albeit a game that leaves the Mets once again looking for answers across the board. The Mets play another one tomorrow. 

Now or Never for T.J. Rivera

With the prognosis on Lucas Duda’s back not looking good at the moment, it seems like it’s not a matter of if but when Duda is placed on the DL. When that happens, the Mets are going to have to make a move on the 40 man roster.  

The Mets are not likely to call up either Brandon Nimmo or Dilson Herrera. Both are performing well at AAA, but both players are also seen as possible everyday players. It’s likely the Mets aren’t going to call them up, wasting service time, just so they can sit on the bench. No, the Mets are going to have to make move to call up either T.J. Rivera or Ty Kelly. 

Early reports are that it may be Ty Kelly. There’s some logic to this move. Terry Collins seemed enamored with him during Spring Training. He’s hitting .391/.478/.548 in AAA. He’s played every position, but catcher. Yes, that includes him pitching one scoreless inning. He’s earned this call-up. 

Problem is so has T.J. Rivera. He’s hit .375/.406/.569 in 20 more plate appearances. So far this year, he’s played first, second, third, and left. 

Like Kelly, he’s a gap to gap line drive hitter with doubles power.  They’re both 27 year old AAA utility players whose value is predicated on their bats. Neither are good defenders. Neither have a set position. Overall, there’s very little separating Kelly and Rivera.

The case for Kelly is he’s a switch hitter who’s been known to have an exceptional eye at the plate. This year, Kelly already has 19 walks. In his minor league career he has walked 505 times and struck out 504 times.  While he’s struggled the past two plus years in AAA, he seems to be putting it together this year. 

However, Kelly has played the vast majority of his time in left field this year, and the last thing this Mets team is another outfielder. With that said, he has primarily been an infielder prior to this year. Of note, he has only played four games at first base. Overall, while Kelly has had a nice year at the plate, he isn’t exactly what the Mets would need if Duda went on the DL. 

If the Mets truly wanted a backup infielder, they would go with Rivera. He has played all but one of his games in the infield this year. While he doesn’t have Kelly’s eye at the plate, he strikes out less frequently. Rivera also typically gets more extra base hits. 

There’s another important reason to call up Rivera. This is Rivera’s sixth season with the Mets organization after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent. He has improved his game each and every year. He has gone from a minor league depth player to being on the cusp of the major leagues. Calling him up would be a moral boost to every player in the organization. It’s a sign to every minor leaguer that if you continue to work on your game and continue to improve, you are eventually going to get a shot at playing in the majors. 

Is that why Rivera should be called up over Kelly?  Of course not. However, with so little separating the two of them, you might as well call up the infielder in whom you have invested six years.  It’s time to call up T.J. Rivera especially with the Mets running out of excuses to keep him in the minors. 

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net

Time to Call-Up Matt Reynolds 

Due to the stress Jacob deGrom‘s injury and Steven Matz‘s short start out on the bullpen, the Mets were forced to call-up Rafael Montero to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. Rather than out deGrom on the DL or demote another pitcher, the Mets sent down Eric Campbell. Even with deGrom looking more and more like he will miss his next start, the Mets still won’t put him on the DL. Essentially, the Mets robbed Peter to pay Paul. 

With a weekend Interleague series in Cleveland, the Mets can get away with a short bench. While it does limit their ability to pinch hit and make defensive substitutions, they should be able to navigate the situation because they won’t have to pinch hit for a pitcher. However, come Monday, they’re back to playing National League ball, and they’re going to need a full bench. 

Whatever your feelings on Campbell is, he’s not going to be eligible to be recalled. Unless deGrom (or someone else) goes on the DL, Campbell will have to spend 10 days in the minors. Looking over the Mets 40 man roster, there would be three eligible candidates: Dilson HerreraMatt Reynolds, and Brandon Nimmo. Now with one extra spot left on the 40 man roster due to Zack Wheeler being on the 60 day DL, the Mets could recall another player like a Ty Kelly

In reality, the decision is between Reynolds and Kelly. Nimmo isn’t quite ready, and even if he was, the last thing the Mets need is another outfielder. Herrera still hasn’t started playing games in the field yet due to a sore shoulder, and even if he has been, the Mets see him as the second baseman of the future. They’re not wasting service and development time for him to be on the bench. 

Kelly is 27 years old, and he has yet to play in the majors. He plays second, third, and the corner outfield positions. He’s a very disciplined hitter, who is extremely selective at the plate. For reasons that aren’t completely clear, he’s spent five seasons in Triple-A, and he’s never played a major league game. Overall, the truth really is Triple-A is his ceiling. At best, he’s a AAAA player. 

Even if that assessment was wrong, it’s still not time to call-up Kelly. First, the Mets would have to add him to the 40 man roster and would not be able to denote him unless he clears waivers. Additionally, his skill set doesn’t match what this team needs. There’s no room for him in the outfield. Terry Collins is going to play Neil Walker almost everyday. So in essence, while Kelly has some versatility, the positions he plays do not match the Mets’ needs. 

Accordingly, Reynolds is the player the Mets need to recall. During Spring Training and this early minor league season, Reynolds has played every infield position but first. His addition to the major league roster would create more flexibility across the infield. It would permit Collins to sit both Asdrubal Cabrera and Lucas Duda in the same game. Additionally, it would permit Collins to double switch with any player with the full knowledge that there’s another player on the bench who is fully capable of playing any position should another double switch be needed or there was an injury. 

Offensively, Reynolds is a right hand batter who profiles better at the next level than Kelly. He’s not as patient as Kelly, but then again no one is. Reynolds profiles as a gap to gap line drive hitter. He does have more pop in his bat than Kelly. More importantly, at the very least, Reynolds projects as a bench player. 

If Reynolds is going to wear a Mets uniform past smiling and waiving before Game One of the NLCS, he’s going to be a super-utility man in the mold of Flores or Joe McEwing. Reynolds has worked hard at it during the offseason and Spring. He knows this is his future, and he’s fully embraced it. 

Better yet, he’s scorching hot right now. He’s hitting .353/.476/.529 with a homerun in five games. In those fives games, he’s played second, third, and short.  At this point the only plausible reason for not calling up Reynolds is the Mets want to have a short bench. 

Reynolds has earned his shot, and he’s playing well. It’s time for the Mets to call-up Reynolds. 

I Love Minor League Deals

Believe it or not, the Mets have actually made two moves this offseason. Both were minor league deals. The first was to utility man Ty Kelly. The second was to Stolmy Pimentel. How will they fare?  Who knows?

That’s the thing. You never quite know what to expect when you bring a player in on a minor league deal. Sometimes it’s a veteran just looking for one last shot. It can be a young player just looking to get an opportunity in another organization. Ultimately, these are players that just want a job, and they’re going to give it everything they have because if they don’t, their career might be over. 

Mets fans and the organization need not look any further than R.A. Dickey. When Dickey signed the deal he was coming off a then career year that him have a 4.62 ERA and 1.617 WHIP in 35 games (only one start). There was no reason to believe the signing would amount to anything more than minor league depth even if knuckleballers tend to figure things out later than more “conventional” starting pitchers. He came to it even later as an adjustment because he was born without a UCL

Well, you know the rest. He went 39-28 as a Met with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.150 WHIP. In 2012, he was an All Star and won the Cy Young Award going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.053 WHIP. Because of that year, and the fact the Mets still had him under contract for another year, the Mets made perhaps the best trade in franchise history acquiring Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard along with Wuilmer Becerra and John Buck

Speaking of John Buck, he would be traded by the Mets the following year along with Marlon Byrd. Byrd was also signed to a minor league deal. When these two were traded together, the Mets acquired Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. Black was effective did the Mets out of the bullpen for a year and a half before he was injured. Herrera is the second baseman of the future. 

Now, there are a million minor league deals that don’t amount to anything. However, those players are released in Spring Training or spend the year in the minors. You don’t spend much money to acquire them, so it’s not a big deal. This happens in the vast majority of signings.

Still, there are always needles like Dickey and Byrd in the free agent haystack. If you’re able to find them you can turn your franchise around. Now, it’s not likely that either Kelly or Pimentel will make that type of contribution.  If they make any positive contribution, the signing is a homerun because nothing is really expected from them. The bar for success is very low, but the sky’s the limit. 

It’s why I love minor league deals.