Mar 15

Den Dekker Battling His Way Onto The Opening Day Roster

Matt_den_Dekker3

(Photo by David Conde, Metsmerized Online)

In last night’s game recap I mentioned that Matt den Dekker may be putting himself back into the family photo in the Mets outfield.

Don’t look now but after going 1-for-3, Matt den Dekker is batting .409 (9-for-22) in 13 games with a double, triple, three runs and five RBIs. He’s entering the picture again.

Christina De Nicola of Mets.com shared some quotes from den Dekker who talks about his solid spring and how it relates to his career pattern of struggling during his first go-around after then putting up big numbers his second time around.

“My past years, I’ve always struggled when I moved up, and then played well the next year, and I just think it’s getting comfortable in the change of surroundings,” den Dekker said. “I’ve been in big league camp before. It’s definitely a little more familiarity and knowing what the guys want and how the other guys go about their business.”

“I’m just out here trying to compete for a spot and trying to make the team and help them out as much as I can.”

At this point, I’d say den Dekker is competing with Andrew Brown for the fifth outfielder position. But if he continues on this trend, it would be difficult for the Mets to not consider him for something more. Especially if the Mets don’t hit the ground running in April.

A year ago it was him that was considered the Mets’ center fielder of the future. That took a sharp detour however, after he fractured his wrist last Spring and then Juan Lagares emerged. But fortunes can change very quickly in this game.

Presented By Diehards

Mar 11

Mariners Still Looking To Move Franklin, Scouting The Mets

franklin

If you think it’s too late for teams to swing deals, think again. The Mariners are still actively scouting the Mets according to a report by ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. He states that Seattle has been religiously attending Mets games, and doubled their scouting contingent in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

It’s no secret that Seattle is shopping shortstop Nick Franklin and MLB Trade Rumors suspects they are readying a proposal for the Mets and are trying to determine a fair asking price. I agree with them. Check in often to see how the MLB odds will be impacted by whether or not the Mets and the M’s can come to an agreement.

Seattle is presumably looking for a young pitching prospect in return of similar value. Obviously, Noah Syndergaard and even Rafael Montero are off the table, but can the Mets tempt the Mariners with a pair of lesser pitching prospects like a Jacob deGrom and Michael Fulmer?

The Mets have no shortage of young arms with high upside, but are they ready to move one or two of them to get the upgrade they need at short?

Sandy Alderson continues to say that he’s quite happy with Ruben Tejada at short and that we shouldn’t expect any changes to the roster between now and Opening Day. However, I’m praying that it’s just a bluff, and we do know that he has acknowledged interest in Franklin as recently as last month.

The 22-year old Franklin batted .225/.303/.382 with 12 home runs, 20 doubles, 42 walks, 45 RBI and a 2.3 WAR in 412 plate appearances last season. Obviously that’s quite an offensive upgrade over anything that Tejada can produce.

The experts say that Franklin won’t stick at shortstop and that his fringe to average arm and range make him better suited for second base. But can he be any worse than Tejada who is also a second baseman albeit masquerading as a shortstop for the Mets the last three seasons?

For what it’s worth, Franklin is having a great Spring for the M’s batting .333/.368/.667 with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs and a 1.035 OPS in 18 at-bats.

Feb 24

Drew Could Sit Out Until June

DREW: Should pass.

In the latest chapter of the Stephen Drew Chronicles, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, contends that the free agent shortstop could sit out until after the First Year Player Draft in June. He further adds that fellow free agents Ervin Santana and Kendrys Morales could also sit out as well.

Such a move could strike a blow against major league baseball in that their former teams will no longer receive any draft pick compensation according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Additionally, the new teams will not be able to tender either of the players a qualifying offer next offseason because they were not with their team for a full season. It’s a loop hole and a strategy that has already been discussed between the players and their agents.

“A road map for this strategy has been figured out,” said Scott Boras who represents both Drew and Morales.

The draft pick compensation system has drawn a lot of criticism recently, including from Drew, but changes are unlikely to be made until after the current CBA expires after the 2016 season.

Boras and the agent for Santana both believe that they can spark change when it’s time to negotiate a new CBA because neither the Royals, Red Sox or Mariners will be very happy that they each lost the picks they expected back for their free agents who simply walk away without any compensation for their former teams.

On the flip side, players may become more open to accepting qualifying offers in the future rather than risk getting into a situation like Nelson Cruz who is the first player to sign a deal for less than the amount of the qualifying offer since the new CBA kicked in two years ago.

Where the Mets are concerned, if Drew were to sit out until June, would it behoove them to continue to pursue him or simply just wait four more months when a better class of free agents becomes available? Would it be wiser to then see how Ruben Tejada continues to perform while also keeping a close eye on how some of their top shortstop prospects develop?

It’s quite an interesting scenario either way you look at it. But I wonder if this is just a false threat by Boras to try and force an immediate resolution and get a new deal for his clients within the next week or so?

It’s weird right?

Feb 22

Mets Instruct D’Arnaud Not To Block Plate

Miami Marlins vs New York Mets

Travis d’Arnaud told reporters that regardless of what rule goes into effect regarding blocking the plate, Mets personnel have instructed him today that he is to stand in fair territory and give base runners the whole plate.

The rule, which is not official yet, is to allow runners a lane to part of the plate so as to avoid contact and collisions with the catcher.

Mets bench coach Bob Geren said that he is working with all the Mets catchers about positioning and making sure they tag across the plate.

Last week, Keith Law of ESPN listed Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud among his top twenty impact prospects for 2014, but says he is “the archetypal GWH player” — Good When Healthy.

D’Arnaud can catch, throw, and hit for power, but has to stay on the field. The Mets don’t have a heavy-use backup on the 40-man, so they’re counting on d’Arnaud to catch 120 games this year, which should mean 15-20 homers and excellent defense if he can stay out of the trainers’ room.

Yesterday, Adam Rubin spoke with hitting coach Dave Hudgens about how TDA can shorten his swing and make more contact without the need for conscious mechanical adjustments.

“I think cutting down his swing just means not trying so hard,” Hudgens told Rubin. “I think when he came up last year he was trying, maybe not in his mind, but it looked like he was trying to hit every ball out of the ballpark and over swinging a little bit and probably just trying to do too much. Watching him this year, so far early in camp, his swing has been easy. He’s been staying in the middle of the field. And that will lend to less effort and less bat wrap.”

Last season with the Mets, d’Arnaud batted .202/.286/.263, with one homer, five RBIs, and 21 strikeouts in 99 at-bats.

Rubin asks Hudgens to quantify d’Arnaud’s offensive capability? Is it .270 or .280 with 20 homers?

“Who knows?” Hudgens tells Rubins. “I’m not putting any numbers on guys. He’s got a chance to be a very good offensive player. I mean, he’s got very quick hands. He’s got a good idea at the plate. I think it’s just experience and confidence and getting that playing time. I think last year when he came up he hadn’t played that much. So I think a big thing is just staying healthy.”

If the fans are looking for d’Arnaud to be the next saving grace as Mike Piazza was for the Mets, Hudgens shares with Rubin, that would be asking too much. ”Piazza, I guess, was the greatest hitting catcher who ever lived. I just want Travis to be Travis.”

D’Arnaud acknowledged that he has some work to do and can’t come up to the plate thinking longball everytime. ”That was more me trying to hit the ball 600 feet,” he said. “When I would try to do that, I would overwrap or overswing pretty much, and it would just dig me in a bigger hole.”

Now it’s up to him to fix it.

Feb 21

Three Mets Players to Watch This Spring Training

COLLINS: Issues to address.

The Mets begin their first full squad workout in St. Lucie on Saturday, February 22 and for us fans there’s nothing better than watching the news filter out of the camp, knowing the first day of the season is getting ever so closer.

Spring training usually sets the benchmark for how a team will perform in the regular season. New additions show off their talent, last year’s rookies return with confidence, old-timers find ways to hang on and those recovering from injury face the uncertainty of testing out their bodies once more.

It’s a fascinating time for baseball fans, but also for those who set the MLB odds for each team and try to predict who will be the division and wild card winners. As rosters begin to take shape in the next six weeks, every team goes into Opening Day in a tie for first place. The tough part will be staying there.

For the Mets, their 2014 journey begins tomorrow. The Mets have many issues ranging from the muddled situation at first base and the yet to be contested battles for the fifth spot in the rotation and who will be the leadoff hitter. But there are three more things to watch for in spring training:

1. Bartolo Colon needs to deliver

Ever since our ace underwent Tommy John surgery late last year – ruling him out for the entirety of 2014 – many are betting and wondering who will replace the majestic Matt Harvey. All eyes will be on Bartolo Colon who was signed to a two year deal worth $20 million and has been the front office’s solution to replacing Harvey’s loss in the rotation. While we all keep our fingers crossed and hope for improved command from Zack Wheeler and the mid-season debut of the promising Noah Syndergaard, the Mets need to hit big it with Colon – Alderson’s highest paid pitcher in four years. They’ll also need to see Dillon Gee and Jon Niese look like the pitchers we saw in the second half of last season.

2. Travis d’Arnaud must step up

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of articles and features on framing pitches, and I’m looking forward to articles on D’Arnaud mashing pitches. TDA didn’t get his billing at top catching prospect for getting one or two extra strike call per nine innings. The rookie catcher played 31 games in the close of last season, but often showed how pressure can get to him. Yet despite his poor form that saw him finish 2013 batting .202, d’Arnaud has the capabilities to be a solid performer in the Mets roster and must prove himself in spring training. At 25-years old it’s time to show-off the offensive package we’ve been hearing about for the last four years.

3. Chris Young against RHP

I’m not worried about Curtis Granderson, we all know what he can do. But as long as Chris Young is being handed an everyday job after a season that saw him bat .200 with a .280 OBP – both lower than Juan Lagares – he’s the man under the microscope.  What scares me more about him – aside from Billy Beane casting him away and proclaiming him a platoon player – is his horrendous .225 career batting average against right handed pitching in 2,825 plate appearances. Is that sample size big enough for you? He has declined every year since 2010 except for his strikeout rate, that continues to climb. He’s pushing a promising prospect to the bench, he better pay us back in spades.