Oct 14

Mets Have Few Spots Without Questions

Let’s assume for a moment the New York Mets’ health questions – outside from Matt Harvey – are answered in the positive heading into spring training. If that’s the case, then let’s look what issues the Mets’ don’t qualify as pressing.

They don’t have a lot.

As I see it, they are only three deep in their rotation with Dillon Gee, Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler. All have performance questions, but if healthy I’m not overly concerned.

Gee won 12 games last year and 15 should not be out of the question. The same goes for Niese. Who among us doesn’t expect Wheeler to pitch the way Harvey did before he was injured?

Who wouldn’t take that now?

As far as the position players are concerned, the Mets are set in just two spots, and possibly a third. David Wright, of course, and can we please stop trying to replace Daniel Murphy when there are other concerns?

I have no problem with Murphy at second base, and for that matter, I’m also fine with Eric Young in left field, primarily because he surfaced above nine other options to be a productive leadoff hitter. Yes, a high on-base percentage would be good to see, but he made things happen at the top of the order and lead the National League in stolen bases.

And, don’t forget, the Mets only had him for half a season.

The expectations are high for Juan Lagares in center, but he has too many offensive issues. The same goes for Matt den Dekker. Translation: The outfield remains a mess.

There are no answers in the minor leagues and little chips to use to trade. That means they will have to spend, but is there anybody out there that makes you salivate?

I wrote optimistically the other day about the bullpen, but that’s if everything comes together. They appear to have plenty of options to build around, but nothing concrete, especially considering Bobby Parnell’s injury. Should Parnell not come back that’s a source for serious worry.

The back end of the rotation is a concern just as it was last year before Jeremy Hefner and Gee started pitching well. They have options they could bring back and others in the minors, but there’s too much uncertainty.

First base is a black hole and catcher Travis d’Arnaud hasn’t proven he can hit, although the pitchers appear to like him and his defense is promising.

The Mets as we know them today will not be your team come Opening Day. And, that’s a positive.

Oct 11

2013 Season Review: Daniel Murphy

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

DANIEL MURPHY, 2B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS

As often has been the case with Daniel Murphy, expectations were moderate at best. If given the chance, the Mets would have replaced him, but with more pressing needs they spent their limited resources elsewhere so Murphy remained in the lineup. After several years of searching for a position, Murphy finally settled in at second base and has improved defensively. As a .290 lifetime hitter with limited power, Murphy was expected to get on base and be a table setter as opposed to being a run producer. Murphy’s lifetime 162-game average is .290 with ten homers, 70 RBI and a .333 on-base percentage. However, for his reputation for being a contact hitter, Murphy has averaged 81 strikeouts with just 38 walks, which isn’t a good ratio. One thing the Mets could expect from Murphy is durability, as he played in 156 games with 571 at-bats in 2012.

2013 SEASON REVIEW

Murphy played in 161 games and settled in as the No. 2 hitter with 113 games started batting second. However, he started games batting first through six, plus ninth in the order. With injuries throughout the lineup, Murphy was a consistent presence. Murphy posted career highs in at-bats (658), hits (188), runs scored (92), homers (13), RBI (78), total bases (273) and stolen bases (23). A strong case can be made for him being the Mets’ MVP. However, Murphy also struck out a career-high 95 times while drawing only 32 walks. For his reputation as being a patient hitter, Murphy only had a .319 on-base percentage. Murphy proved reliable in the clutch with a .354 average with runners in scoring position and two outs; .305 with the game tied; and .297 with the Mets within one run.

LOOKING AT 2014

John Delcos Says:

General manager Sandy Alderson, in listing the Mets’ offseason priorities, said he could live with Murphy at second base. With Murphy’s propensity for delivering in the clutch, if the Mets can’t add a power bat, they might go with Juan Lagares hitting second and drop Murphy to the middle of the order where he would be in more RBI situations. Murphy will never be mistaken for Roberto Alomar defensively, but is gradually improving, especially in turning the double play. With Murphy coming off his most productive season, he’ll go into spring training for the first time as an established player, and not fighting for a spot in the lineup. Conventional thinking dictates, as a player gets older and stronger, and more familiar with the pitchers, he should hit for more power. Murphy is a doubles machine – ideal for Citi Field – but it isn’t expected he’ll be a 20-homer hitter.

Joe D. Says:

As Ed Leyro recently wrote, Daniel Murphy had one of the greatest seasons ever recorded by a Mets second baseman in 2013.  He finished the year with a .286 batting average, 38 doubles, 13 homers, 78 RBI, 92 runs scored and 23 stolen bases.  Prior to Murphy, the only second basemen in franchise history to reach double digits in both home runs and RBI in the same season were Gregg Jefferies and Roberto Alomar.  But neither player matched Murphy’s totals in batting average, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases.  In fact, the only two players in team history who had better numbers than Murphy in all six offensive categories (batting average, doubles, home runs, RBI, runs scored, stolen bases), regardless of their defensive position, were Howard Johnson in 1989 (.287 average, 41 doubles, 36 HR, 101 RBI, 104 runs scored, 41 SB) and David Wright in 2007 (.325 average, 42 doubles, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 113 runs scored, 34 SB).

In a season that saw the 28-year old finish in the National League’s top ten in base hits, doubles, runs scored and even stolen bases, you would think Murphy’s job security with the Mets would be a slam dunk. However, given the pattern of this front office to sell high on any player who performs above major league replacement level, Murphy’s hold on second base is anything but certain. His name is often brought up as a potential trade chip this offseason by the mother ship, MetsBlog. That scares me.

Can you imagine how much worse this underwhelming offense would be without Murphy? They’ve already got their hands full trying to replace the 37 home runs from Marlon Byrd and John Buck, and if Murphy goes that will be 200+ RBIs the Mets will have to account for. In my opinion, any trade for Murphy will most likely create another gaping hole in the lineup and at best would be a lateral move that could possibly backfire. At some point we have to break this current cycle of shedding quality major leaguers not named David Wright for untested minor leaguers.

Oct 06

Mets Have Little To Offer In Trade Market

The New York Mets say they will spend on free agents this winter, in large part because they have little to offer up in the trade market.

Really, their only chance to immediately improve is to write checks.

What losing Matt Harvey for the 2014 season also does, is it greatly reduces the Mets’ inability to execute trades. In the wake of Harvey’s injury, general manager Sandy Alderson said he would be reluctant to deal Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard or any of the Mets’ other young pitching this winter to acquire the power hitter they are seeking.

Alderson said he has three starters heading into spring training – Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler – so none of them are available to deal. And, with Jenrry Mejia recovering from elbow surgery, there’s an even greater need to hold onto their pitching.

There’s nothing on the minor league level regarding position players that are major-league ready. If there’s nobody whom the Mets can bring up, that also means there’s nothing they can trade to a team that wants to add to the major league level.

On the major league level, the Mets have one star player capable of bringing something in return and that’s David Wright, assuming, of course, they could get anybody to bite on that contract.

There’s Daniel Murphy, but he won’t bring back anything in the way of an impact player or pitcher. Eric Young is a role player, while Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud are major league prospects, but if they are traded that merely creates more holes for the Mets.

What about Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda? The Mets would like to get something for either, and don’t think for a second they haven’t been trying. Whenever Alderson is on the phone with another general manager, before he hangs up he’ll ask, “Any interest in Davis?  How about Duda?’’

When Alderson talks about the need to increase the Mets’ depth on the minor league level, he means more than just with their pitching prospects. To reach contending status, a team must have a strong farm system to not only bring up players, but also trade them to fill holes.

That’s something the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves have been doing for years. Alderson’s words aren’t ringing hollow. Improving depth in the farm system is essential if the Mets are to reach the next level. Buying players might help on a temporary basis, but it isn’t something they will be able to live on winter after winter.

 

Sep 27

Mets’ David Wright Out Of Lineup With Injured Thumb

David Wright will not be in the New York Mets’ lineup tonight because of a swollen right thumb sustained when he tried to brace himself Thursday night when he fell after taking a change-up to the head.

Wright passed a concussion test Thursday and experienced no symptoms while running today.

Wright is hoping to play in the remaining two games of the season. He has played in only 110 games because after spending nearly seven weeks on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.

From a statistical nature, Wright is two homers shy of 20; three RBI shy of 60; and three points short of a .400 on-base percentage.

Brewers starter Johnny Hellweg, who had control problems all night, was extremely apologetic, almost to the point of being distraught, after beaning Wright.

Said Hellweg: “That’s the last guy on the team I want to hit. All I hear is good things about him. He’s a good guy. You don’t ever want to hit somebody in the head. It was a changeup and definitely mislocated. I feel awful he had to come out of the game. It got to me a little bit because it’s David Wright. That’s their guy. And it was in the head, and he had to come out.’’

The television cameras caught Hellweg when Wright was on the ground and you could tell the concern in his eye. Matt Cain expressed the same regretful feelings with he beaned Wright at the end of the 2009 season.

One could see the concern in their eyes after hitting Wright. After seeing that, I couldn’t help but think back to when Roger Clemens beaned Mike Piazza in a Subway Series game, and later his rage in throwing the broken bat at Piazza during the World Series.

What people tend to forget is later that game Piazza took Clemens into the upper deck.

NIESE GETS CALL: Rather that go with Daisuke Matsuzaka on short rest, Terry Collins said he’d start Jon Niese in the season finale.

That was clearly the best choice.

METS HONOR MINOR LEAGUERS: Tonight the Mets will introduce first baseman Allan Dykstra and catcher Kevin Plawecki as co-minor league players of the years. Gabriel Ynoa was named the minor league pitcher of the year.

Also to be honored are:

Pitcher Rafael Montero (Las Vegas).

Pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Jeff Walters (Binghamton).

Outfielder/third baseman Dustin Lawley (St. Lucie).

First baseman Jayce Boyd (Savannah).

Pitcher Rob Whalen (Kingsport).

Pitcher Robert Gsellman (Brooklyn).

First baseman Dominic Smith (Gulf Coast League).

Outfielder John Mora and left-hander Jose Medina (Dominican Summer League).

TONIGHT’S LINE-UPS:

Eric Young, LF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Daniel Murphy, 2B

Justin Turner, 3B

Juan Lagares, CF

Travis d’Arnaud, C

Wilfredo Tovar, SS

Carlos Torres, RHP

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 16

Mets Matters: Celebrate When It Is Worthy And David Wright Playing Again

The celebrating the New York Mets did Sunday will be nothing compared to what I will do once I get the kinks worked out of my server. I was down most of the weekend and still having problems. Many thanks to Joe DeCaro for his hard work in getting me online again. His efforts are most appreciated, as is his posting on my site.

The Mets are off today before starting a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants.

Just a few thoughts about the weekend series with the Marlins to get caught up:

* Sunday’s celebration was a bit much. And, the shaving cream pie has to go. When you’re in a pennant race, fine, show the joy. But, when you beat the worst team in the majors and arguably your goal is to not finish twenty games below .500, it’s a bit much.

* Dillon Gee pitched another stellar game, and although he isn’t as dominant as Matt Harvey, he has been the Mets’ most consistent pitcher this year. He would easily have 17 victories, and could be closing in on 20, if he pitched for a team that scored some runs.

* David Wright wants to play before the season is over. He has nothing to prove by doing so, and I hope he’s not taking an unnecessary risk. But, his work ethic and desire to play is something to be admired and respected. Let’s hope his teammates are taking notes.

* Several times over the weekend I heard about trading for Giancarlo Stanton. It would be great to obtain such a bat, but it’s a dream. With Harvey’s injury has put a roadblock on trading their young pitching. Plus, can you really see the Marlins trading their best talent within the division? I can’t see that happening.

* I agree with Joe wholeheartedly and don’t believe the Mets should be shopping Daniel Murphy. Yes, there are better second basemen, but Murphy has improved defensively. He’s played well enough defensively to the point where that position is not a priority. The Mets have too many other holes that must be fixed before addressing second base.

* The Mets’ bullpen has been hot and cold this season, but it has performed well in long stretches, enough to where there doesn’t have to be a total rebuilding in that area. And, I’ll say it again – bring back LaTroy Hawkins.

* Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been injured, and when he’s been healthy he hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities. With Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker, Nieuwenhuis might be off the Mets’ radar in the future.

* For the second straight year, the Mets’ offense has stumbled in the second half. There has been no mention of replacing hitting coach Dave Hudgens, but you would think that would be considered.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos