By Steven Inman

The Mets don't have to deal with left-handed bats in the N.L. East like Jason Heyward who was dealt to the Cardinals this winter

The Mets don’t have to deal with left-handed bats in the N.L. East like Jason Heyward who was dealt to the Cardinals this winter

While power hitters are becoming endangered in major league baseball there is something that has become even rarer and that is left-handed pop. In an excellent article by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Sherman details how rare the left-handed slugger truly has become. Only one of the top eight home run hitters in 2014 was left-handed.

Just eight left-handed hitters hit 25 or more dingers in 2014, the fewest in a 162-game season since 1992. So how does that relate to the Mets?

Well its simple, the Mets, who currently don’t have a reliable lefty reliever in their pen may not have to game plan for that big lefty bopper as much as originally thought. While Freddie Freeman is still a big bat to save a lefty specialist for, there aren’t nearly as many as their used to be in the N.L. East. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are obviously not the threats they used to be. Jason Heyward is now out of the division. Bryce Harper hasn’t established himself as a player you have to fear late in games, just yet anyway.

Terry Collins and company still need to solve this bullpen hole but if they don’t, it won’t be the reason 2015 isn’t successful.

By Steven Inman

The Mets don't have the depth to replace a pitcher like Vic Black, should he miss any extended time

The Mets don’t have the depth to replace a pitcher like Vic Black, should he miss any extended time (Photo by NY Post)

While the New York Mets have an impressive group of young arms in their bullpen that includes hard throwing right-handers like Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia, injuries have hurt this once promising group.

The team is already without Josh Edgin, who was the lone left-hander projected to make the Opening Day bullpen. Vic Black is also banged up and doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for Opening Day according to Terry Collins. The team has looked at internal options to replace Edgin but none have pitched well to date. The team will look to waivers to find a left-handed reliever so the lack of depth is obvious with just two weeks to go before Opening Day.

A pitcher like Buddy Carlyle who pitched well in 27 appearances for the Mets last season now looks like a lock to make the Opening Day bullpen. While Carlyle looked solid with the Mets last season, he is 37 years old and has pitched in just 31.0 big league innings since 2011.

While the team has plenty of starting pitching depth, they don’t have a ton of guys ready and able to pitch in key bullpen innings for the Mets down on the farm. Bobby Parnell is expected to pitch early on in the season but having pitched in just one major league game since July 2013, it is unfair to count on him for a significant role just yet. Stay tuned Met fans this issue could be something to watch…

By Steven Inman 

Matusz has spent all six years of his major league career with the Orioles after Baltimore selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft

Matusz has spent all six years of his major league career with the Orioles after Baltimore selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft

With Josh Edgin down, the New York Mets are in search of his replacement in the bullpen. According to various media reports the Mets have been scouting Orioles lefty Brian Matusz and believe he could help the club’s bullpen. Matusz, 28, has emerged as a key left-handed weapon in the Orioles bullpen after failing as a starter during his first four big league seasons. Matusz would be a great addition to the Mets bullpen and would help fill a glaring need.

Having said that, Brian Matusz will not be a Met in 2015.

First off Matsuz is a key component to the Orioles bullpen. He held left-handed hitters to a .227 average in 2014. While the Orioles have other left-handed options such as closer Zach Britton and free agent signing Wesley Wright, it is highly unlikely that they would be interested in dealing Matusz this close to the season without something of value in return.

Secondly while Matusz is under club control through 2016, he is entering his third season of arbitration as a Super Two player and will earn $3.2 million in 2015. If the Mets didn’t have interest in giving a lefty like Joe Beimel a contract in the $1 million range, they probably don’t have interest in paying Matusz more than triple that in addition to giving up players.

It is also unclear if the Mets could fit such a contract into their budget at this time without trading a major league player on a similar 2015 salary.

While the Mets are scouring around for a lefty, it is more likely the need is addressed internally or from an unproven pitcher who is unable to make his current club and is about to be put through waivers.

The Edgin news increases the chances that LHP Sean Gilmartin will make the club but the team sees him more as a long man in a bullpen not as a lefty specialist. Gilmartin, like other Mets LHP options for the bullpen has not impressed much early on in camp.

How should the Mets address this underrated issue?

By Steven Inman

After giving Zack Wheeler an MRI as a precaution, the club is expected to lose their young right-hander for the 2015 season (Photo by Newsday)

After giving Zack Wheeler an MRI as a precaution, the club is shockingly expected to lose their young right-hander for the 2015 season (Photo by Newsday)

Just when you think the Mets were ready to turn the corner more bad news strikes.

After learning days ago that LHP Josh Edgin will have Tommy John surgery, we learn today that RHP Zack Wheeler has a torn UCL and will likely have TJ surgery as well. When will the hits stop coming to this poor snakebitten franchise.

Terry Collins and company didn’t even feel it was necessary the other day to give Wheeler the MRI since he just had a clean one over the winter. It’s just very disappointing news on what is expected to be a better season for the New York Mets.

While Wheeler looked primed for a big season (I suggested the club should give him a contract extension a few months ago) there are a few small positives about the timing of this news. First off since the Mets overvalued Dillon Gee’s market, he is still here and can now slot into Wheeler’s spot in the rotation.

Next since Wheeler will likely his surgery sometime next week he would be on track to return to the majors next April, barring a setback. Finally because of the starting pitching depth on the major league and the minors league rosters this won’t kill the Mets season just yet. Although one more bad piece of injury news and they could be done for.

Nevertheless this is still very bad news for a young team trying to breakout. Now even more pressure is on Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and now even Jon Niese to carry this club.

By Steven Inmanima

All winter the Mets talked about how important it was to bring in another left-handed specialist for their bullpen. Actions speak louder than words however as the Mets did not invest any guaranteed money into a lefty specialist. Obviously the Mets financial constraints are serious but its concerning that the club wasn’t able to muster up enough money even to bring in somebody on a guaranteed deal.

The Mets had zero margin for error with just LHP Josh Edgin in their bullpen. The Mets have overworked their lone lefty relievers in the past consistently.

During the BrokeMets spring training primer last week I called Edgin’s the team’s most important reliever. Now we learn that he is going down for the year with Tommy John surgery. The team now has zero viable left-handed relievers to put into the pen and will be forced to put in a player such as Scott Rice on the roster when he probably shouldn’t be there.

Terry Collins prefers to match up late into games and will not have many options to do so when a big left-handed bat comes in for opposing teams.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen has been very unimpressed with the left-handed relief candidates. “Most of them haven’t had great production anyway” Warthen said in a quote by ESPN NY Adam Rubin.

Even if the Mets did have money to spend at this point, there aren’t many relief options available. Free agency is now barren as specialists such as Joe Beimel, Phil Coke and Joe Thatcher have all signed minor-league deals over the last month or so.  The Mets could get one in a trade if a player is out of options and is unable to make his current club, but that wouldn’t give the Mets a ton of time to evaluate if the player can handle the workload that Terry will need from that position.

It is truly disappointing that the Mets didn’t address such an obvious need and with no internal candidates stepping up, this is a problem that is likely going to reveal itself when the season starts.

By Steven Inman 

If things go well for the Mets in '15, expect Collins to be one of the favorites for NL Manager of the Year Photo by CBS NY

If things go well for the Mets in ’15, expect Collins to be one of the favorites for NL Manager of the Year
Photo by CBS NY

The 2015 Mets are chomping at the bit to get the regular season started. They are confident and aren’t prepared to just concede the N.L. East title to the Washington Nationals like most “experts”. On paper, thanks to this pitching staff and a rejuvenated David Wright, this could be the best Met team since 2008, which happens to be the franchise’s last winning season,
The depth on this team is truly the difference maker. If a key player goes down to injury the team now has a young player with upside able to fill in at many positions instead of having to dip down in Vegas to find a 30-year old “quadruple-A” player like in previous seasons.
The starting rotation will be this clubs strength but it will be very intriguing to see how Terry Collins handles it. The entire coaching staff will have to be ultra creative in stretching Matt Harvey’s 150-160 innings across the entire season. The team originally planned on Harvey skipping the first week and starting the home opener, but that plan has been scrapped.
Zack Wheeler remains a work in progress and can come undone quickly so the coaching staff will have their work cut out for them. This young right-hander must learn how to get batters out on fewer pitches or he isn’t going to be able to go deep in games often. Along with that the team will have to decide if Dillon Gee should enter the rotation should Bartolo Colon struggle early in April.
The growth of these young pitchers will be how I judge Terry Collins and Dan Warthen in 2015.
The Mets lineup is pretty set except for the fact that the team plans on using Lucas Duda everyday, even against lefties. That would be a huge mistake as Duda hit .180 in 125 plate appearances in 2014 vs. LHP and is a .212 career hitter against southpaws in five big league seasons. Duda would be much more effective strictly against RHP. Plus the Mets have a huge weapon on their bench against left-handers in John Mayberry Jr., who has crushed lefties throughout his career before last year, when he struggled against all pitchers. How Collins handles Mayberry Jr. will be one of the more underrated elements to this Met season.
Lastly this Met bullpen will be the best Terry Collins has had in New York as he enters his fifth season as Met manager. The one concern he may have is that he only has one left-hander in his ‘pen. If Josh Edgin struggles this bullpen could become a problem. The key for Edgin is keeping his velocity up. Edgin averages 93 mph on his fastball and he doesn’t have the stuff to get left-handed bats out should that drop even a tick like it did last spring.

Whether you like it or not, Josh Edgin enters camp as arguably the most important Met reliever in 2015

Whether you like it or not, Josh Edgin enters camp as arguably the most important Met reliever in 2015

This team clearly has more talent than in years past. While Alderson didn’t do much over the winter (or any winter as Mets GM), sometimes the best move is the one you don’t make. Alderson and his staff look very wise to have hung on to all of their young pitching over the last few seasons although it would have been nice if he added another left-handed reliever.
To me, this team looks like a playoff contender that will likely fall short of the postseason in the end thanks to a poor defense and an inability to add that one key bat they likely will need at the trade deadline. This team will finish with 84 wins and will play meaningful games down the stretch. The Mets have a very bright future.
How many wins will the Mets have in 2015?
By Steven Inman ima

As the 2015 season gets closer and closer optimism continues to grow in Port St. Lucie. Last season as the Mets prepared to break camp, the two biggest weaknesses appeared to be the bullpen and too many strikeouts up and down the lineup. While the bullpen got better as the season went on, it was the main reason why the Mets fell out of the race quickly in 2014. By the time the young arms were contributing it was too late.

The strikeouts were a problem as players who normally offset their highs strikeout totals with a lot of extra base hits such as David Wright and Curtis Granderson had down years. These two factors were key in the 2014 Mets being a losing team. The players the Mets are adding to their 2015 lineup are not classsified as strikeout guys and tend to put the ball in play more often than most.  Neither the strikeout nor the bullpen issues should be much of a problem this season.

The Mets main problem in 2015 will be their horrendous defense.

The Mets defense was very poor in 2014 and would have been a whole lot worse without the amount of range that Juan Lagares covers in center. The Mets made 104 errors in 2014, which was 4th most in the National League. While errors don’t tell the full story, only one player had even an average year defensively and that was obviously, the gold glover Lagares.

Other than Wright and Lagares the Amazin’s really don’t posses an everyday player here who has the track record of an above average defender. This defense will be a problem for Terry Collins’ club.

The two new additions to the 2015 Mets lineup are OF Michael Cuddyer, (who is not very good defensively in either corner) and Wilmer Flores. (Not a SS) While the offense should improve in 2015 with these two hitters playing everyday the defense should be even weaker, especially at shortstop. Daniel Murphy has worked ultra hard on his defense and because of his bat is now one of the better second basemen in the National League but a Flores/ Murphy double play combo has to make even the most optimistic Met fan cringe.

While the Mets have fixed most of their holes from 2014 internally, one hole is still as big as ever. The question is will this issue be large enough to derail the Mets promising season?