Tagged: New York Mets

New York Mets: Keeping Their Heads Above Water

Welcome to life after the All-Star Break where we separate the pretenders from the contenders. At 47-41, the New York Mets, the defending National League Champions, are hardly pretenders but things lately haven’t been making them feel like contenders, either. Injuries have wrecked both the high-maintenance rotation and the powerful but sometimes futile lineup. Sitting tied for second place in both the National League East and the second Wild Card, the Mets coming out of the break do not have a situation as dire as their neighbors in the Bronx. However, their play and their walking wounded are not inspiring much confidence in the fanbase. With nine games on the road to start this second half, New York has to keep their heads above water until their injured players begin (or if?) to return to full health.

Courtesy: mlb.com

Courtesy: mlb.com

The Mets kick off this next phase of the season in Philadelphia against the Phillies. After going through a stretch in which they won only six games out of 30, Philadelphia has managed to right the ship a little, entering the break only six games under .500. This, for a team that was expected to lose close to 100 games this year. The Mets are only 3-3 against the Phils but have pummeled them at Citizens Bank Park the last couple of seasons. Two out three to start the second half is the way to go. Next, the Mets travel to Chicago for three games against the revenge-seeking Cubs. All New York has done is beat the Cubbies eight straight games and Chicago is 2-8 over their last ten contests. Win at least one game in Chicago and look to meet up with them down the line. Finally, it’s three games in the Fish Tank as the Amazins travel to play the Miami Marlins. This is the team New York is tied with in the playoff standings and are 5-4 against so far this season. The Mets took two out of three from them earlier this month at Citi Field.

This isn’t a make or break road trip for the Mets. However, they can’t lay a total egg and go 2-7 or 3-6.  A game under or over .500 will show that despite all of their misfortune, this team can still be a threat down the stretch. After this, the schedule becomes a bit more manageable. The Mets will have 12 games against the bottom three teams in the National League West, all of whom are at least eight games under .500. Nine of those contests are at home and the three road games are in Arizona where the Diamondbacks are an awful 15-32 at Chase Field. The Mets should go 9-3 against those three teams and their outlook on the rest of the season will be much better. However, let’s get through these nine games first.

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Reviewing 5 New York Mets’ Predictions for 2016

With the All-Star Game now history and an extra day without baseball, now is the perfect time to review exactly how my prognostication skills are. Before the 2016 season began, I declared that the New York Mets would repeat as National League Champions by winning 94 games. Click here if you would like to read the preview in its entirety. I also made predictions on five Mets’ players and how they would fare in the upcoming campaign. In preparation for this post, I patted myself on the back for one of them and felt sick while looking at another. Which means I am no better or worse than any expert who actually does this for a living.

Courtesy: foxsports

Courtesy: foxsports

1-Matt Harvey will have a monster season.

Could I have been any more wrong? Or am I just a jinx? To me, all signs pointed to Harvey being a Cy Young contender. He had another year removed from Tommy John surgery and seemed primed to continue his ascension into being one of the top pitchers in the game. Instead, he is now done for the season and Mets’ fans are becoming increasingly disenchanted with him. What kind of Harvey will we see in 2017? Don’t ask me because my first go-around on making a declaration on him was a disaster.

2-David Wright will play in no more than 100 games.

Sadly, this is true. Even worse, this is something that is not going to get better. In fact, you can make the argument that we may not see Wright in a uniform again. First, it was spinal stenosis last year, a condition that is not going away. This year, it was surgery on a herniated disk in his neck. That is a lot to overcome for a normal person, never mind a 33-year old professional athlete.

3-The Neil Walker you saw in Pittsburgh will be the same Neil Walker you see in New York.

With 15 home runs, he is on pace to best his career-high which is 23, set in 2014. The batting average of .254 and on-base percentage of .323 are slightly below his overall numbers in Pittsburgh. His defense is just as steady and his clubhouse presence will be needed now more than ever with the rash of injuries to the Mets. The number you worry about is 37 as in the amount of RBI’s he currently has. Like most of the Met hitters, Walker seems to be in the business of solo home runs and the run production for these Met hitters outside of the long ball is almost nothing. Walker and the rest of the crew will have to turn this around in the second half.

4-Steven Matz will not make 20 starts in the Majors.

With 16 outings already, it appears as though the rookie will exceed that number. However, he is pitching with chips in his elbow, a condition which will require surgery at some point. Hopefully for the team and the player, that time doesn’t come until the offseason. Matz hit a rough patch once it was revealed what he was dealing with but has rebounded nicely in his last two outings. Against the division rival Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals, he allowed only five earned runs in 14 innings, albeit both in losing efforts. Still, you can’t help but wonder if the first time Matz struggles will it be a sign that his season ends early?

5-Yoenis Cespedes will regress………slightly.

Is there any way Cespedes could have kept up with that monster pace he established during his first 50 games in New York? With 21 home runs, he is on pace to match or exceed the 35 he hit last year combined with the Mets and Detroit. His average is above .300 and his on-base percentage sits at .372. However, his injury right before the break calls into question how healthy will he be once play resumes. If Cespedes is out for any length of time, then the Mets will not have much of a chance to defend their National League crown. Then the next hurdle will be to determine whether or not he opts out of his contract after the season. That’s a prediction for another day.

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New York Mets’ Minor League Report 7-13-16

Over the last year, the New York Mets have dipped into their Minor League system quite a bit. They have promoted promising outfielders Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo and have dealt away promising prospects such as Michael Fulmer in order to improve the Major League roster. It is safe to say other than the shuttling back and forth of relievers from Triple A Las Vegas, the Mets will not be touching players on the farm in order to swing more deals. In order to deal a prized player such as shortstop Amed Rosario, New York would be looking for a sizeable return that is under club control for at least the next two seasons.

Courtesy: milb.com

Courtesy: milb.com

The Las Vegas 51’s came into their All-Star Break with a record of 46-43, good for second place and 6 1/2 games behind the El Paso Chihuahuas. They dropped three consecutive games heading into the break and owned a mark of 4-6 in July. The 51’s are sending three players to the Triple A All-Star Game which will be played Wednesday night: third baseman T.J. Rivera, designated hitter Travis Taijeron and starting pitcher Gabriel Ynoa. Taijeron participated in the AAA Home Run Derby but was eliminated in the first round.

With a record of 39-49, the Double A Binghamton Mets haven’t had a lot to cheer for. One of the bright spots in the team is second baseman Derrik Gibson who was signed by the organization last November. In his last ten games, the 26-year old Gibson has 14 hits in 35 at-bats, a .400 average. He was originally selected in the second round of the 2008 Draft out of Seaford High School in Seaford, Delaware by the Boston Red Sox. The 26-year old Gibson spent seven seasons in their organization, rising as high as the Triple A level in 2014. For the B-Mets, the right-swinging Gibson is hitting .283 and owns a .366 on-base percentage with eight stolen bases, both club-highs.

Ricky Knapp of the St. Lucie Mets continues to shine in the Florida State League. His 2.08 ERA is second-best among all Sunshine State pitching and he also owns a 1.11 WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched). The 24-year old Knapp, taken in the eighth round of the 2013 out of Florida Gulf Coast, is 7-4 in 90 2/3 innings over 14 total appearances, 13 of which were starts. The right-handed pitcher made one start for the B-Mets on July 2nd, hurling seven innings of two-run ball in a 9-2 Mets’ victory. In three of his 13 starts, Knapp has allowed zero runs, pitching a total of 22 innings in those outings.

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New York Mets’ All-Star Game Memory: Jacob deGrom

It seems as though no matter what he does, Jacob deGrom gets overshadowed by his fellow mound mates on the New York Mets. Matt Harvey has been nicknamed “The Dark Knight” while Noah Syndergaard goes by the moniker of “Thor”. Yet, it has been deGrom who has avoided the injury bug and been the most consistent member of New York’s heralded pitching staff since winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2014. Despite all of the perceived slights, there is one thing that DeGrom will always hold over his teammates: a dominating All-Star appearance.

courtesy:nj.com

courtesy:nj.com

It was on July 14th of last year in Cincinnati when deGrom toed the rubber in the top of the sixth inning with the National League trailing 3-1. The hitters, in order, were Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias. These three men proceeded to become the star victims in one of the most scintillating performances in All-Star Game history. DeGrom needed a mere ten pitches to blow away Vogt, Kipnis and Iglesias, a performance that captivated not only fans but the best of the best in Major League Baseball. Clearly running on adrenaline overdrive, his fastball topped out at 98 miles per hour. In all the years of watching the All-Star Game, I am not sure I have seen a more breathtaking moment than Jacob deGrom firing missile after missile. Let’s see Harvey and Syndergaard top that performance.

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New York Mets All-Star Memory: Dwight Gooden

The year was 1984 and the National League All-Stars were looking to get back to their winning ways at the Midsummer Classic. The prior year, the American Leaguers pasted their counterparts by a score of 13-3 ending the Senior Circuit’s 11-game winning streak. 1984’s edition would be held at Candlestick Park, almost assuring that the game would be dominated by pitchers. It also represented a coming-out party for rookie Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets, a 19-year old pitcher whose performance in the first half of the season had the Big Apple in the palm of his hands. With his selection, Gooden became the youngest player ever to appear in an All-Star Game.

Courtesy: ESPN.com

Courtesy: ESPN.com

The National League did get their revenge, winning the game by a score of 3-1 with future Met Gary Carter, then with the Montreal Expos, taking home Most Valuable Player honors. However, all anyone could talk about was Gooden, the teenage phenomenon who dominated the best of the American League.  In the fifth inning, Gooden struck out the side, disposing of the Detroit Tigers’ Lance Parrish and Chet Lemon as well as Alvin Davis of the Seattle Mariners, who like Gooden, would win Rookie of the Year in 1984. In the following frame, Gooden retired Lou Whitaker on a ground out before Eddie Murray lined a double. He then induced Cal Ripken, Jr. to ground out and Dave Winfield to fly out before calling it a night. Prior to Gooden’s dominating the fifth inning, Fernando Valenzuela was equally as tough. In the fourth, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lefty struck out Winfield, Reggie Jackson and George Brett, giving the NL six consecutive whiffs, one of the most historical pitching performances in All-Star history. It brought back memories of Carl Hubbell‘s feat in 1934 of striking out five Hall of Famers in a row: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. Fifty years later, it was Gooden and Valenzuela who were the talk of the Summer Classic and for Gooden, it was the start of one of the most magical periods in New York baseball history.

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New York Mets’ Highlight of the Week 7-3-16 Through 7-9-16

Courtesy: CBS Sports

Courtesy: CBS Sports

What started out as a week of promise for the New York Mets has ended with storm clouds. Matt Harvey is officially done for the season and Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard are both missing the All-Star Game with what the team hopes are minor injuries. After finishing off a sweep of the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, New York took two of three from the Miami Marlins and then the first game of a four game set against the Washington Nationals. The Mets then proceeded to drop the next two games to drop to five games behind the Nats.

This week’s highlight came on Thursday night off the bat of the rejuvenated Wilmer Flores. In the bottom of the fifth inning, he stepped to the plate with the Mets down 6-4. His hot stretch continued with his fifth home run in five games putting New York in front for good, a contest they won by a score of 9-7. There was a combined eight home runs in the game, none bigger than Flores’ blast.

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New York Mets: Wilmer Flores, Super Utility Man

Do not be deceived by the headline. I am not implying that Wilmer Flores has become this dynamite player for the New York Mets in the mold of Ben Zobrist. You remember Zobrist, don’t you? He was the object of the Mets’ affection in the offseason, so much so that manager Terry Collins (reported by Maria Guadado of NJ.com) texted Zobrist the following message: “We want you”. Eventually, he signed a four-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, leaving New York without a player that can match his skill set.

Courtesy: foxsports.com

Courtesy: foxsports.com

Enter the not once-but-twice jilted Flores.

The much-quoted story about the 24-year old Flores is that he has an excellent bat but isn’t sound enough defensively to hold down any one spot. However, in today’s game of baseball, that is not necessarily a bad thing. As long as you can hit and at least be competent in the field, you will have a spot in the Majors. As teams increasingly carry more pitchers, inevitably, benches are becoming more thin.  If a club has a guy who can play three or even four positions, the less there is a need to have more than three or four players in reserve. It’s how Zobrist, at age 35, secured a contract valued at $15 million dollars a per year.

Again, I am not trying to put Flores in the class of Zobrist. Very few players are like him, a player who has tremendous plate discipline and who can play defense at multiple spots. However, Flores has seen time at every spot in the infield in 2016 and hasn’t hurt his team defensively. His bat remains live, as evidenced by his recent stretch of five home runs in five games, despite the constant state of flux regarding where exactly he should play. From a personal standpoint, Flores can increase his market value by showing the rest of the Majors that he can play multiple positions while producing at the dish.

The one big drawback for Flores is that he swings from the right side. Left-handed pitchers are a scarce commodity, leaving him on the bench while guys such as Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera and now Jose Reyes get the bulk of the playing time in the infield. Perhaps if James Loney begins to struggle a platoon at first base could develop with Flores even when Lucas Duda returns. Perhaps Flores would be better served to learn an outfield position given the struggles of Alejandro De Aza who most certainly will not be back in Queens next year. Once upon a time, players such as Flores could succeed at a position for a short amount of time but can’t stay there for an extended stretch, such as three months. Today, versatility is king and if Wilmer Flores wants to take his game to the next level as a Major League player, it’s best to do that by playing all over the diamond.

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New York Mets Minor League Report 7-6-16

Jose Reyes is now officially back in a New York Mets’ uniform. Along the way, he stopped in a couple of farm teams in order to get back into Major League shape. He went hitless in six plate appearances for the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones and had six hits in 31 plate appearances for the Double A Binghamton Mets. This was the big story coming out of the Mets’ farm system over the past week along with the usual comings and goings at Triple A Las Vegas.

Courtesy: nypost.com

Courtesy: nypost.com

On to some more action within the Mets’ Minor League organization.

T.J. Rivera continues to hit for Triple A Las Vegas. Only July 4th, the Bronx native lit some fireworks of his own with a grand slam and six RBI’s as the 51’s defeated the Salt Lake Bees by a score of 17-6. The 27-year old shortstop is second among all Pacific Coast League hitters with a .351 batting average and is tied for fourth in RBI’s with 59. He was also selected to play in the AAA All-Star Game to be held on July 13th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite his gaudy production, the Mets seem to have no room for Rivera on their Major League roster. However, look for him to be part of the wave of September 1st call-ups.

First baseman/outfielder Kevin Taylor of the Class A St. Lucie Mets was named the Florida State League Player of the Week for the week of June 27th-July 3rd. He had 13 hits in 31 at-bats with 11 RBI’s, two doubles, two home runs and seven runs scored. The 24-year old Taylor leads the Mets with seven home runs and 34 RBI’s and is tied for first among all FSL batters with a .396 OBP. He was originally taken in the 34th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011 out of Western Nevada College. After not advancing past the Single A Midwest League ranks in the Dodgers’ chain, Taylor found himself playing two years of Independent ball before the Mets signed him in February.

The Single A Brooklyn Cyclones have rebounded nicely after a slow start. They are 6-4 over their last ten games, moving their record up to 9-10 and in second place in the New York-Penn League’s McNamara division. It’s been a mixed bag both on the mound and at the dish for the Cyclones. The pitching staff ranks first in strikeouts with 203 and tied for third in WHIP at 1.15 but eighth in ERA at 3.21. The offense ranks ninth in batting average at .225 and ninth in OBP at .307. However, they are in the upper half of the league in runs scored with 82. It will be an interstate rivalry weekend as the Hudson Valley Renegades make their way to Coney Island this weekend for a three game set against Brooklyn.

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New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs: A Quick Preview

Monday began the most important stretch of the season for the New York Mets. They started the first of two series with the first place Washington Nationals leading into the All Star break. Well, things did not go as planned as the bad news mounted both on and off the field. New York was swept by the Nats, dropping them to 40-37, in third place and six games behind first place Washington in the National League East. To make matters worse, concerns are mounting about the health of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. They now return to Citi Field to play the team with the best record in the National League, the Chicago Cubs.

Courtesy: nypost.com

Courtesy: nypost.com

The Cubbies sit at atop the National League Central with a mark of 51-26, 11 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals. They recently endured their own tough stretch, losing six out of seven games prior to the start of this week. Chicago righted themselves by heading into Cincinnati and sweeping the Reds. That left their record in June at an ordinary 16-11 after a near-historic 35-15 run during the first two months of the season. It is safe to say the team has wrapped up their division and is now prepping themselves for another deep playoff run.

The offense was and remains outstanding. Ben Zobrist, the object of the Mets’ affection this offseason, has ten home runs and 42 RBI’s and ranks sixth in the Majors with a .409 on-base percentage. First baseman Anthony Rizzo is right behind Zobrist with a .407 OBP and is tied for the team lead in RBI’s with 58. The other guy with 58 RBI’s is third baseman Kris Bryant whose 21 home runs is tied for third among all hitters and his 61 runs scored ranks fourth. Bryant is coming off a historic game on Monday in which he became the first player to hit three home runs and stroke five doubles in one game. Just imagine how much better this offense would be if Jason Heyward wasn’t hitting .235. The Mets will not see Dexter Fowler and his .398 OBP as he is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

The Cubs are not just all about offense. Their one-two combination of Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester just might be the best duo in the game right now. Believe it or not, Lester actually has the better ERA at 2.03. He has dominated in six June starts with a record of 4-0 and a 1.41 ERA. Arrieta sports a fine 2.10 ERA but has been hittable as of late. Four of his last seven outings have resulted in him going only five innings and not having the same type of dominance we saw earlier in the year. The rest of the rotation has been outstanding as Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks have ERA’s of 2.58 and 2.76, respectively while John Lackey is the “slacker” at 3.29. There will be speculation that the Cubs will upgrade their bullpen but the crew led by Hector Rondon has been terrific. Each man, with the exception of Justin Grimm, have been allowing less than three runs per game.

With the Mets reeling, this is Chicago’s chance to at least get a little bit of revenge for last year’s NLCS demolition. While they may not leave New York burying the Mets, they sure can begin the process of shoveling. If the Cubs manage to take three of four games, the Amazins’ season will be officially be in turmoil, if it is not already. If the Mets can get off the deck and actually win this series, then consider their season salvaged. These teams will meet for the last time this season at Wrigley Field from July 18th-July 20.

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New York Mets Minor League Report 6-29-16

The Minor League system for the New York Mets has seen quite a bit of action from some prominent Major Leaguers. Brandon Nimmo switched places with Michael Conforto as the former was called up to make his Major League debut while the latter was sent to Triple A Las Vegas to get himself worked out of a horrific slump. Most interesting of all was the return of Jose Reyes, who has begun his second stint in New York with a couple of games with the Brooklyn Cyclones. By the end of this week, there is a good chance that Reyes will make his return to Citi Field.

Courtesy: milb.com

Courtesy: milb.com

Here are some other happenings down on the farm.

Per Marc Craig at Newsday (via mlbtraderumors.com), the Mets have no interest in trading shortstop prospect Amed Rosario. The 20-year old Rosario was recently promoted to Double A Binghamton after hitting .309 with a .359 on-base percentage at St. Lucie of the Florida State League. He would be the centerpiece in any major trade New York would make at the deadline but is deemed almost untouchable.

-Another shortstop, Brooklyn’s Colby Woodmansee is off to an excellent start. The team’s fifth round pick earlier this month, the 21-year old Woodmansee has 11 hits in his first 28 at-bats for the Cyclones. He played three seasons with the Sun Devils, slugging 47 extra-base hits and scoring 75 runs over the last two years.

-A pair of Met Minor Leaguers will be playing in the MLB Futures Game during All-Star weekend. First baseman Dominic Smith will represent the United States while second baseman Dilson Herrera was placed on the World squad. The 21-year old Smith, ranked by mlb.com as New York’s #1 prospect, is hitting .259 with a .317 OBP and 48 RBI’s at Binghamton. The 22-year old Herrera is hitting .278 with 11 homers and 44 RBI’s at Las Vegas.

-Speaking of Vegas, they own a mark of 41-37, good for second place in the Pacific Southern Division of the Pacific Coast League. They are 4.5 games off the pace set by the El Paso Chihuahuas, the top farm team of the San Diego Padres. Shortstop T.J. Rivera, second in the PCL with a .361 batting average, was just activated from the disabled list. In order to make room for Rivera, the 51’s released third baseman Danny Muno.

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