Nov 22

2011 Player Review: Lucas Duda

We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. We started evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada and continue today with Lucas Duda. Tomorrow: Justin Turner.


THE SKINNY: Duda is power personified. When he gets one, it goes. He’s the last Met who needs the fences brought in. Duda was brought up to play first base after Ike Davis was injured, and finished the season as the candidate to play right field this year.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: After a brief display of his power in 2010, Duda started the season in the minor leagues as expected with the anticipation he would be brought up eventually in case of emergency, but definitely when the rosters were expanded.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: Duda’s opportunity came when Davis injured his ankle in a collision with David Wright. After a slow start, Duda finished with 10 homers and 50 RBI in 347 at-bats. First base was totally his after Daniel Murphy was disabled, but with right field forecast as a hole because of the Carlos Beltran trade, Duda eventually got 46 games in the outfield (42 in right). He closed the season with the expectations of being first in line for right field in spring training.

JOHN’S TAKE: Personally, when it became apparent the Mets wouldn’t make the playoffs – and that came pretty early – Duda should have gotten more games in right field. He’s not a great defender and a case could be made for moving him to left and shifting Jason Bay to right field, which is a difficult position at Citi Field. The brought-in fences should help Duda at the plate, but also in the field as there will now be less room to roam. I like Duda for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was his decision to bunt when he was on a roll because that was the team thing to do. The man plays hard and deserves a chance. With his power he should at least double his home run production over a full season.

JOE’S TAKE: For some odd reason, I’ve found myself having to defend Lucas Duda on a number of occasions this offseason. Many Mets fans don’t seem to believe in him as I do as an offensive presence in the lineup. Here are the facts…

Lucas Duda was leading the league with a .597 SLG and 1.100 OPS prior to his promotion to the Mets. In his last 153 minor league games, Duda slugged 33 home runs and drove in 111 runs. He also had 48 doubles in that span. In other words 550 AB, 48, 2B, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 96 RS, 83 BB, 111 K. In five years in the minors Duda has a .286 batting average, .383 OBP, and a .473 SLG. Fluke?

After Duda was promoted this season he batted .292 in 300 AB with 21 2B, 10 HR, 50 RBI, .370 OBP and .487 SLG. As he got acclimated to the majors he kept getting better posting OPS of .711, .910, .911 and .929 from June to September to finish third in the National League that final month of the season.

Now I’m not saying Duda is the next Jim Rice or Manny Ramirez, but he could be the next Carlos Lee. It’s no coincidence I’m using left fielders as a comparison, but ultimately left field is where I see Lucas Duda settling in. And while his routes to balls and his overall defense leaves a lot to be desired, I believe he’ll get better as he becomes more acclimated.

The kid’s a keeper.

Nov 20

2011 Player Review: Daniel Murphy, IF

We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. We started evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada and continue today with utility player Daniel Murphy. Saturday: Lucas Duda. Sunday: Justin Turner.


THE SKINNY: Murphy is a gritty, aggressive player with a high on-base percentage, but without a position and a propensity for being injured. Murphy, a natural third baseman, can’t play there because of David Wright. He didn’t take to left field, but seeming found a home at first base, but when he was injured it opened the position for Ike Davis. The Mets tried him at second base, but he sustained a knee injury at the position. Through it all, Murphy managed to hit, with a lifetime .292 average.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: Coming off an injury, the expectations were limited, but the hope was if healthy he’d play second base and come off the bench as a pinch-hitter.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: Murphy was having an outstanding year offensively with a .320 average, six homers and 49 RBI in 109 games before he sustained a torn MCL in August while covering second base on a steal attempt and missed the remainder of the season.

JOHN’S TAKE: GM Sandy Alderson said at the GM meetings in Milwaukee that Murphy was available in a trade, but who would deal for him without knowing of healthy he is. Murphy has a propensity for getting injured and has limited defensive abilities. If every Met played as hard as him the team would be a lot better off. I can’t see the Mets dealing him now because of his baggage, but if he stays healthy and continues to hit, he might be attractive in July. Then again, if he’s healthy and hits, he would be valuable to the Mets. Probably as a second baseman if he finally takes to the position and Jose Reyes leaves.

JOE’S TAKE: I’m a big Daniel Murphy fan. He has a great approach at the plate and is one of the Mets’ most disciplined hitters. Just 26, Murphy has become a doubles hitting machine – collecting 75 of them over 1,030 career at-bats. It’s such a shame that a hitter this good doesn’t have a true defensive position he could call home. He’s a natural third baseman, but with Wright entrenched there, the Mets have tried to squeeze Murphy into a variety of other positions just to get his bat in the lineup. Rumors abound that he could end up being the Mets everyday second baseman in 2012, but I have a huge problem with that. It may very well be that Murphy’s greatest value to the team will ultimately be as component in a trade to a team where he could play third base or DH. Until that happens, enjoy Murphy’s at-bats and hold your breath when he takes the field. I’ll have more on Murphy tomorrow on

Nov 17

2011 Player Review: Ike Davis, 1B

We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. We started evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada and continue today with first baseman Ike Davis. Tomorrow: Daniel Murphy.


THE SKINNY: Davis became a Mets cult hero in 2010 with his eye-opening power and propensity for climbing the dugout rail to make circus catches. Davis missed most of last season with an ankle injury, but remains one of the franchise’s key prospects.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: After hitting 19 homers with 71 RBI in 2010, big things were expected last season. Perhaps 30 homers, which would have been a good complement to David Wright. There were little issues about his defense, so the Mets had themselves a star in the making.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: Murphy’s Law: If it can go wrong for the Mets it will.  Davis got off to a good start with seven homers, 25 RBI and a .302 average before an infield collision with Wright  on a pop-up.  Davis said Wright and he couldn’t hear each other, and nobody heard Mike Pelfrey call for it as a pitcher should. Maybe he had his fingers in his mouth. Anyway, a couple of days became a couple of weeks became a couple of months.

JOHN’S TAKE: Ankle injuries are tough to come back from because so much of hitting is done with the legs. That’s what generates the power. Davis said he’s sprinting and will be ready for the spring training. We shall see. There’s a lot to like about a healthy Davis. Let’s hope he’s that.

JOE’S TAKE: Davis has quickly become one of my favorite Mets. He has an intensity and drive you don’t see in some of the other players and he absolutely hates to lose. I see him quickly becoming on of the leaders of this team in the mold of Keith Hernandez. His quick bat and the power he generates from from his lower body tells me we could see many 30+ home run seasons in his future. His defense is close to elite and it won’t be long until he starts racking up a few Gold Gloves. Get back on the diamond Ike, it’s what you were born to do.

Nov 12

2011 Player Review: Scott Hairston, Willie Harris

John Delcos of and Joe DeCaro of will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at bench players Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Tomorrow: Chris Young and Ronny Paulino.


THE SKINNY: They are role players for a reason: neither Willie Harris nor Scott Hairston are good enough to be fulltime players. Harris, 33, hit .246 with two homers and 23 RBI for the cost of $800,000. Hairston, 31, hit .235 with seven homers and 24 for the cost of $1.1 million. Both were good in the clubhouse, and Hairston contributed off the bench.

REASONS TO KEEP THEM: Teams need role players and they are known quantities. … They are young enough to where they can continue to contribute. … Neither will cost the Mets much.

REASONS TO LET THEM GO: Role players are easily replaceable for a comparable cost. … If the desire is to go into a full rebuilding mode, then let’s see what’s available in the minor leagues.

JOHN’S TAKE: It isn’t as if they can’t be replaced. Traditionally, role players are the last added to the roster so their priorities are elsewhere.

Role players are more important to contenders as missing pieces, and that doesn’t describe the Mets. If the Mets want to bring them back, fine. If not, that’s fine, also.

JOE’S TAKE: Glad we decided to group these two together. It’s hard for me to be too critical of players who were specifically signed for the bench. Of the two, I wouldn’t mind keeping Hairston and I’ll tell you why, he’s right-handed – first, plays a solid outfield – second, and the dude has some serious pop left in his bat – third.

I took a look at his 132 at-bats last season and never mind for a second that he batted .235, but did you know if you prorated his numbers over 500 at-bats, Hairston would have hit 28 home runs with 96 RBI? Of course, hewon’t get that much playing time barring an unforseen disaster next season, but there’s nothing wrong with that kind of potential on your bench. Just don’t bat him against RHP.

As for Harris, he’s a great guy. I love his attitude and his presence in the clubhouse, but we have too many young outfielders we need to get up to the majors and evaluate and in that regard Harris is just clogging up the works. So let him go and start making those spectacular, hit-robbing plays in the outfield again – which he never make for the Mets.

Nov 09

2011 Player Review: Angel Pagan

John Delcos of and Joe DeCaro of will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Angel Pagan.


THE SKINNY: You look at this guy and wonder why he’s not better with his physical tools. Pagan appeared to have a breakout year in 2010 when he hit .290 with 11 homers, 69 RBI and 32 steals. In 101 less at-bats last season Pagan hit four fewer homers with 13 less RBI. Not only were his numbers off, but he regressed in his defense and decisions on the bases. This is not a fundamentally sound player.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: The Mets are thin in the outfield, don’t have many options on the minor league level and don’t figure to get any help in the free-agent or trade markets. … Should Jose Reyes leave, the Mets don’t have any leadoff options.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He could get up to $5 million in arbitration, which is a lot considering his production. … After last summer, it appears 2010 was a fluke. … Is there any reason to believe he’ll be better?

JOHN’S TAKE: The word is the Mets will tender Pagan so this might all be a moot point. I would still rather them take the gamble with Grady Sizemore, or if nothing else, see what somebody else can do. The Mets aren’t loaded with outfield options, but if Pagan produces as he did last year, he’s not offering much.

For a team wanting to get better defensively and fundamentally, Pagan doesn’t bring much to the table. Defensively, he doesn’t judge balls well and has a below average arm. In 2010 it appeared he was ready to take over centerfield, but I don’t see that anymore. For all his speed, his .322 on-base percentage is poor and his strikeouts-walks ratio is roughly 2-to-1. Let him go and move on.

JOE’S TAKE: The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or so it would seem where Angel Pagan is concerned. A year ago fans were clamoring for Pagan to replace Carlos Beltran in center field for his defensive exploits and some even mentioned him in the same breath as David Wright for his offensive showing in 2010. Gulp.

Pagan was a big letdown in 2011. He got off to an atrocious start at the plate to start the season batting .159 in April before hitting the DL with an oblique injury and missing nearly a month. His bat looked great when he returned, but that was offset by big declines on defense and base-running.

Pagan is proving himself to be wildly inconsistent and that’s usually the sign of a platoon player or even worse – a fourth outfielder. Is it smart for this front office to pay $5 million for such a player when the utilities at Citi Field are in danger of being turned off? Probably not, but they will anyway. It’s not like they have any better options.

One year at the helm and the new Mets caretakers now have less center field depth than last November. That means they will have to keep Pagan, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it. These are strange times in Flushing.