Oct 24

New Hitting Coach Long Can Help This Suggested Outfield

Let’s operate under the assumption, which isn’t hard to do, the New York Mets won’t acquire the long-ball hitting left fielder they covet. Given that, the Mets’ outfield – from left to right – should be Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.

Lagares is a finalist for the NL Gold Glove in center field, along with Billy Hamilton and Denard Span. The award is determined by 75 percent input from managers and coaches and 25 percent by statistics.

LAGARES: Needs to hit.

LAGARES: Needs to hit.

Lagares proved this season he can field the position and steal a base, but he’s far from polished offensively, evidenced by a low on-base percentage and propensity for striking out. If he’s going to compete for the leadoff spot those two areas must be improved.

I would move Granderson from right to left – there’s your homer hitting left fielder – because it’s easier to play than right. You want a polished defender in right, which is den Dekker.

This should the full time opportunity he didn’t get last season because the Mets wasted their time with Chris Young. Yeah, I know it’s piling on.

All three could benefit from new hitting coach Kevin Long’s tutelage.

Granderson thrived under Long with the Yankees, hitting over 40 homers and driving in over 100 runs in 2011 and 2012. Unfortunately, he also struck out 169 and 195 times in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Maybe Granderson will benefit with the closer fences in Citi Field, but if Long can get him to cut his strikeouts and use the whole field, he could live up to that contract. Granderson’s on-base percentages and strikeout rates were much better playing in spacious Comerica Park, giving the impression he was seduced by the Yankee Stadium bandbox.

As for Lagares, his 87-to-20 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is something he must improve because in this era teams can’t afford to carry an offensive liability no matter how good he is in the field.

Den Dekker showed he’s worthy of the opportunity based on his production over a limited 152 at-bats with a .250 average and .345 on-base percentage.

This is potentially a good outfield defensively, but if they prove they can hit, the Mets will be greatly improved.

Sep 18

Two Key Numbers Say Mets On The Cusp

Just when you begin to get the warm-and-fuzzies about the New York Mets, they lose a series to the Miami Marlins, a team they trailed by just a game starting the week.

Granted, third place in nothing to raise a banner over, but it is better than fourth. Also, at the end of last week, they trailed Atlanta by 2.5 games with a chance at second … small steps for a team learning to walk with the big boys.

However, none one of this changes the fact the Mets have a way to go to reach true competitive status.

The Mets lost their 29th one-run game Wednesday night – they are 25-29. They played an additional 23 two-run games. That’s 77 games that could be considered close.

So, in 48 percent, or roughly half their games, the Mets were competitive.

Of all the numbers defining this season, 77 might be the most telling. More so than what they hit with runners in scoring position; team batting average; or any of the fancy Sabremetrics numbers.

Also important is their 30-35 record within the NL East, which includes 3-13 against the Nationals (with three remaining in Washington).

Quite simply, for the Mets to become a winning team (seven games under with nine to play) they must improve in those two areas. Using the Mets’ .477 winning percentage, if they played at that rate in their 29 one-run losses and 23 two-run games (52), that’s 25 more victories for 99 total on the season.

That’s an unrealistic jump to expect, but I point it out to illustrate they are on the cusp of turning the corner. Should Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler pitch to expectations next season, Jon Niese does the same, and with the return of a healthy David Wright, the Mets could be in the wild-card mix in 2015.

Assuming all that happens, another at least another ten victories is possible. It could happen.

Dillon Gee was auditioning last night to attract the attention of a team for 2015 under the assumption he wouldn’t return to the Mets. Gee, a No. 5 starter at best is 7-8 with probably one more start.

Banking on the return of Harvey, plus Wheeler, Niese, Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon, there’s no room for Gee. The numbers don’t work.

LAGARES INJURED: Outfielder Juan Lagares has a right-elbow sprain and will likely miss three or four games. With nine games remaining, is there time for him to play again?

“I can’t answer that,’’ Terry Collins told reporters yesterday.

Lagares has been ailing since the Cincinnati series the first game in September.

WPIX RE-SIGNS WITH METS: Television station WPIX extended its contract with the Mets through 2017. The package includes 25 regular-season games and four in spring training.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE: The Mets are off today then begin a three-game series this weekend in Atlanta.

 

Wheeler (10-10), Niese (8-11) and deGrom (8-6) will start for the Mets.

Jul 29

Could Juan Lagares And Eric Young Be A Viable One-Two?

As the enthusiasm for a strong finish by the New York Mets might have fizzled in Washington, a bright spot continues to be Juan Lagares, raising the possibility of a speedy tandem at the top of the order with Eric Young.

Of course, he needs to show more offensively, but that part of his game is improving and the power might develop as he gets stronger and learns the pitchers better. It must be remembered development also includes adjusting to the pitching when it adjusts to him.

LAGARES: Catch of the year?

LAGARES: Catch of the year?

Lagares’ opportunity came from the collective ineptness of the Mets’ outfield. Currently, he and Young are the only outfielders that could be considered starters heading into spring training.

Lucas Duda might end up at first if he’s still on the team; Marlon Byrd might not be re-signed; Kirk Nieuwenhuis has his moments, but they are sparse.

Lagares is outstanding defensively, and his diving catch where he lost the ball and re-caught it might be one of the best of the season by an outfielder.

The objectives over the next two months for Lagares and Young are to show GM Sandy Alderson his outfield needs aren’t so severe.

Lagares’ average is slowly rising, but his 47-to-7 strikeouts-to-walks ratio must close, and if it does his .299 on-base percentage and .699 OPS would rise. His number projected over 162 games would be 121 strikeouts, 18 walks and 39 doubles.

The number that stands out most with Lagares are 15 doubles in 175 at-bats. Give him 600 at-bats and he would be pushing 45 doubles. If his strikeouts and walk numbers improved, the Mets would have themselves a solid center fielder.

Meanwhile, despite cooling since his hot debut, Young is still a catalyst at the top of the order with a .275 average and .357 on-base percentage in 138 at-bats.

Since the rest of the season is for finding answers, I would like to see if Young and Lagares can complement each other at the top of the order. What is currently preventing that is Daniel Murphy’s ability to work the count and protect Young as a base stealer.

Should Lagares develop in that area, it might be intriguing, and could allow for Murphy to be lowered in the order to give him more favorable RBI opportunities.

That would be important to know if the Mets don’t bring back Byrd, which I see as unlikely. I figure, as with Scott Hairston after last season, the Mets won’t give the player two years.