Mets eliminated from Postseason contention

By Steven Inmanimages

The title of this article is a sentence Mets fans have become too familiar with over the past eight seasons… The Mets have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Mets are 74-80 this season after winning 74 games the previous two seasons. While the record isn’t much bfametter, the team has made a number of improvements with key players while learning that other won’t be part of the solutions.

2015 Pieces

Lucas Duda: The Mets best (and only) real power threat in the lineup in 2014 was the emergence of Lucas Duda. It has always been a confidence issue for the 28-year old but he has begun to fix that. The move to first base, his natural position certainly helped his offense and Duda should be a big part of the Mets offense in 2015.Duda’s power hasn’t really increased he is just getting his first real opportunity to play every day all season. The team may need to find a backup first basemen in the winter who crushes lefties. A player like Danny Valencia could fit in very well at first base. Valencia hit .324 this season against left-handers with an.813 OPS.

Jeurys Familia: Familia was flat out dominant in 2014. He neutralized even the greatest of right-handed batters and went from not being able to throw strikes in 2013 to being “effectively wild” in 2014. Whether he becomes the closer or stays as the set-up man Familia should be effective in the Mets bullpen in 2015 while making the league minimum, should he stay healthy.

Travis d’Arnaud: The 2014 season started as a disaster for the 25-year old d’Arnaud. Travis was batting .180 on June 4th when the Mets made the wise decision to send him down. They called him back up around three weeks later. Since his recall the rookie backstop is hitting .273/.320/.482 with ten homers and 32 RBI. He has become one of the Mets better hitters and is now batting third. D’Arnaud has looked very comfortable in the #3 spot. The Mets have a very good problem with d’Arnaud’s offensive growth at the major league level and Kevin Plawecki’s impressive minor league season. The one issue with d’Arnaud is he has a hitch in his throws to second and has become very easy to run on. Keith Hernandez on the SNY broadcasts noted that it will be very difficult to get that hitch out over the winter and in Spring Training.

Other notable players are Juan Lagares and Jacob deGrom who should be a part of the Mets future for years to come. I’m going to have a separate post on both of these future award winners once the season ends.

Players that took a step back in 2015

Ruben Tejada: Tejada came to major league camp with something to prove. He instead proved that the Mets wasted another year hoping he could be the answer at shortstop for some reason. Tejada will likely be a non-tender guy and will join another team as a backup middle infielder, a role that he should be much better in.

Dillon Gee: Gee looked like he was on his way to another strong season before a lat injury took out a few months for the right-hander. Since Gee has returned he has struggled to the point that he could be on his way out of town. Gee will surely get a hefty raise on his $3.6 million 2014 salary through arbitration. With all the Mets pitching now up or near the major league level the Mets might find Gee’s increasing salary to be better used elsewhere. The Mets will shop around Gee along with Jonathan Niese this winter.

Bobby Parnell: To no fault of his own, Bobby Parnell threw in one game for the Mets before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Parnell’s velocity was down a lot in spring training but the Mets publicly said they were not concerned. Parnell will make at least $3.7 million next season in his final year of salary arbitration. Again with the Mets hamstrung for cash, it makes little sense to pay a reliever that kind of money coming off Tommy John. The Mets also have Jenrry Mejia and Familia to be the back end of the bullpen. It is far from a guarantee that Parnell will be ready to pitch in a big league game by April. The Mets would be much better off non-tendering their former closer and try to bring him back on an incentive laden contract.

Curtis Granderson: The Mets are hamstrung on Granderson’s huge back loaded contract. He hit even worse than he did when he broke his hand twice last season with the Yankees while the Mets thought he would hit much better. While the Mets would surely like a redo on this deal to get that money back to put into a corner outfielder on the upswing, no team will take on this 33-year olds deal when he has 3-years and 47 million left on his deal after this season with a slash line of .221/.322/.376. The Grandy Man’s 19 homers this season should go up a little when the Mets likely move the right-field fence in.

Wilmer Flores hasn’t shown enough to be the Mets shortstop

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Wilmer Flores hasn’t shown enough with the stick to show that he should start in 2015 on what should be a contending team

By Steven Inman

Sandy Alderson recently said to some of the clubs beat reporters that he is “getting more comfortable” with the idea that Wilmer Flores could be the Mets shortstop next season. Flores, 23, is hitting .246 with six homers and 28 RBI in 224 at bats for the Mets this season. Flores’ defense has been much better than advertised to the point where he has shown he can play the position. That being said, his defense is still a liability and I don’t think he’ll hit enough to make up for the defense.

A potential Wilmer Flores-Daniel Murphy middle infield combo could be catastrophically bad.

There have been players who have improved defensively with experience at the major league level at shortstop. Jhonny Peralta, currently of the Cardinals was a player who was viewed within the industry as a very poor defender at short but is now viewed as one of the major’s best defenders to go along with an impressive bat.

Flores is out of options so the Mets will lose him to another team if he doesn’t make Sandy Alderson’s club out of spring training. Flores has shown enough that he should be the backup middle infielder.

Flores is only 23 years old with very little big league experience so while I don’t think he should be the Mets starting shortstop next year that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be down the road.

Flores is hitting .273 (15-55 AB) with a .305 OBP along with four homers and 12 RBI in 14 September games.

There will be plenty of quality shortstops on the free agent market such as J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera. Of course we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the Mets could afford one of these players plus fill their left-field need.

Shortstop has been the black hole on the Mets infield ever since the team elected not to pay All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes what he was worth. A move that both team and player both probably regret by now.

What should the Mets do at shortstop next season?

The Mets will scout Yasmani Tomas in the Dominican Republic next week

By Steven Inmanindex
The Mets will be one of the teams in the Dominican Republic watching Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas’ showcase next week. Tomas, 23, is expected to receive more money this winter than Boston’s Rusney Castillo. Castillo signed a seven year deal worth $72.5 million a few weeks ago from the Red Sox. Castillo is actually expected to make his major league debut Wednesday. If Tomas actually gets more money than Castillo then you can just forget about the Mets being involved in the bidding.
Castillo fits a huge need for the Mets which is enormous power from a corner outfield spot.  That being said, the Mets won’t risk money (that they really don’t have) on a Cuban prospect that hasn’t showed he can hit major league pitching before.
Some believe that Tomas could command nearly $100 million as a free agent.
The Mets are far more likely to trade one of their young pitchers for an inexpensive bat than go out on the international free agent market and buy a bat like Tomas.
The Mets are probably just doing their due diligence on a player who could become a superstar, but will no doubt be paid like one.

Jenrry Mejia Could Wind up Getting a Met Hitter Hurt

By Steven Inman

Jenrry Mejia clearly caught the attention of the Nationals after Friday's contest

Jenrry Mejia clearly caught the attention of the Nationals after Friday’s contest

Jenrry Mejia has had a breakout year as the Mets closer in 2014 which includes 26 saves in his first season manning the ninth inning.
That being said Mejia’s over the top celebrations were garnering notice around the league before this week when Mejia began to add to his celebrations. Mejia seemed to do a miniature version of his dance after striking out Anthony Rendon for the second out of the ninth Friday night. Then the young right-hander struck out Ian Desmond and began taunting the Nats by pretending to reel in Desmond after getting him to swing and miss to end the game. The Nationals telecast caught Bryce Harper on deck staring down Mejia for an extended period of time after the game was over.

Bryce Harper and the Nats could make a statement to Mejia and the Mets Saturday that excessive celebrating will not be tolerated

Bryce Harper and the Nats could make a statement to Mejia and the Mets Saturday that excessive celebrating will not be tolerated

Mejia, 24, is the youngest Met to accumulate 25 saves in a season ever but he clearly irked the big bad Nats and there could be consequences today. Daniel Murphy was already drilled in the wrist by a Matt Thornton pitch Friday and had to miss Saturday’s game with his wrist ailing. The Mets can’t afford to lose a key player for an extended period of time if they want to finish over .500 for the first time since 2008. The Nats drilling a Met during this series can be seen by Washington as a statement that Mejia’s antics are over the top, especially for a team that has been under .500 all season.
The Nationals definitely noticed the Mejia’s moves after the game. “That wasn’t called forDenard Span said to D.C. reporters about Mejia’s antics. “No need for that.”
Jenrry Mejia didn’t believe he was over the top after the game. “I just go out there and it’s like adrenaline,” said Mejia, insisting his moves are unscripted. “I just do what comes naturally. I just struck him out, and I did something to finish the game.”

For whatever its worth, Mejia has made four appearances vs, Washington this season and hasn’t allowed a run.
The last thing this 72-76 team needs right now is to put the target on their back, especially against a team that has taken 11 of 14 games against them this season. That being said Terry Collins didn’t seem to have any problems with Mejia during the post game. “You’ve got to have some emotion in the game. We see it everywhere. I see other teams doing it. They can get mad, if it gives them more adrenaline. I want these guys to have some fun. I don’t want to corral them and worry about every move they make. We’ll try to settle him down a little bit. But, gosh, it’s a big win for us against a first-place team and there’s no reason not to be excited.” Collins told reporters after the game.

Was Mejia’s celebration over the top Friday night?

Believe it or not, the Mets aren’t out of the Pennant Chase

By Steven Inmanlloyd

When Bud Selig put in the second wild card I don’t think he envisioned several average to below average teams competing for a playoff spot. Well that’s the 2014 NL Wild Card Race.

The Giants appear to be running away with the first wild card and still have aspirations on the NL West, They are a quality team but the teams below them in the wild card race are not. Believe it or not, the Mets are not out of the wild card race.

The Mets are 5.5 games out of the second wild card with 17 games to go. Yes that lucky 17 games to go always seems to find the Mets like in 2007 and 2008.

The issue is there are four teams ahead of them in the wild card race and the Mets just lost David Wright for the year Tuesday.

That being said the four teams ahead of the Mets also all stink. Let’s go over why.

Pittsburgh Pirates- The Pirates just can’t seem to gain any ground and have been very up and down recently. The Pirates won four straight, then lost four straight, then won four straight again before losing last night. They are just very streaky because they don’t have the offense to pick up the slack. This is the team that is most likely to win the second wild card.

Atlanta Braves- The Braves have been awful recently as their offense is one-dimensional. Atlanta just don’t seem to win when they don’t him home runs. The Braves are 22-50 when they don’t homer this season. The Braves have lost six of their last eight and they are now closer to last place then first place. The Mets also see Atlanta again one more time in what actually could be the Mets first big series in Turner Field in September in a very, very long time. The Braves may clean house if they finish under .500. The Mets can definitely catch them with a strong finish.

Milwaukee Brewers- The Brewers were leading the Central all season and just imploded two weeks ago. The team was 1.5 games ahead of the Cardinals on August 26thand are now six games back of the Cardinals. The team has lost 13 of their last 14 games as their starters are 1-11 with a 6.69 ERA in that span. Ryan Braun isn’t hitting and is banged up, Carlos Gomez isn’t hitting and is banged up and the Brew Crew look done. They probably had their worst loss of the season last night and just look like they ran out of gas. The Mets can definitely catch them.

Miami Marlins- The Mets just saw the Marlins last week and took two out of three in South Beach. The game the Marlins won in that series when the Mets made six errors looms even larger now. This Marlin team is very mediocre, they have a fantastic outfield but they really just don’t have many strengths other than that. The pitching staff isn’t going to be able to carry this team over the other teams mentioned to erase their 3.5 game deficit. The Mets can definitely catch them with a strong finish.

NL Wild Card Teams

W

L

PCT

WCGB

WCE #

       

San Francisco

79

65

.549

+4.0

-

       

Pittsburgh

75

69

.521

-

-

       

Atlanta

74

71

.510

1.5

17

       

Milwaukee

74

71

.510

1.5

17

       

Miami

71

72

.497

3.5

16

       

NY Mets

70

75

.483

5.5

13

       

 

Are the Mets going to make the playoffs? Highly unlikely, but they have been playing much better and they have the pitching staff that could make a little noise down the stretch pass some of these fading teams. The question is going to be can they hit enough to go on some kind of run. The Amazin’s will have their work cut out for them with seven more games against the Nationals with just 17 to go but this could be the Mets first September where they aren’t just playing the string out. At the very least the Mets are trying to finish .500 or better for the first time since 2008. New York would have to finish 11-6 to finish .500.

When you see performances like Jacob deGrom’s Tuesday night and the offensive progression of Travis d’Arnaud it makes you think that the Mets are getting close to turning the corner. Now imagine what this deficit would be if this team had Matt Harvey this season.

What are your expectations for the Mets down the stretch??

Jay Bruce could be good buy-low candidate for Mets

By Steven Inmanindex

As the Mets get ready for their annual winter search for more power hitters, an interesting trade candidate is emerging.

The Cincinnati Reds expected to contend this season but after the worst second half in the majors to date, (15-29) they have all but fallen out of the race. Now the Reds enter an offseason where their three huge contracts, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Homer Bailey missed significant time due to injury and their four best starters are entering their walk years.

Johnny Cueto, Matt Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon are all free agents after the 2015 season. Reds GM Walt Jocketty has already mentioned that the team will not be able to retain all of them as free agents and could trade a few of them this winter. If the Reds sell off aces like Cueto and Latos, chances are they would be willing to discuss slugger Jay Bruce.

Bruce, 27, was an All-Star in 2011 and 2012 but is having his worst big league season. The slugger is batting just .219 with 15 homers. Bruce had hit 96 homers in the previous three seasons so the Reds must be shocked to see Bruce struggle so much this season.

Without key cogs like Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips on base in front of him, Bruce has just 59 RBI this season. Bruce has struck out a rough 28% of his plate appearances this season, a career high.

The Reds will definitely listen on Bruce, who will be a free agent after the 2016 season if they decide now is the time to sell off their pitchers. The Reds could elect to go for it one last time with Cueto and Latos but it will only make their rebuilding efforts that much more difficult.

Bruce is owed $24.5 million through the 2016 season. The contract also has a $13 million club option for 2017. While that may be difficult for a team to absorb like the Mets, trading players like Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy could create room for this small revenue club. (The Mets are going to try and move those two players anyway)

Bruce has finished 10th in the MVP voting the past two season. He recently told Cincinnati.com that “this has been the most embarrassing year of my life,”

Bruce could cost a lot in prospects but nothing compared to what he would have fetched a year ago. This is definitely something the Mets must look into this winter as they look for more offensive help.

Dilson Herrera gaining valuable big league experience

By Steven Inman

Tim Teufel and the rest of the Mets coaching staff will be working extra hard to turn Dilson Herrera into a capable second basemen this month

Tim Teufel and the rest of the Mets coaching staff will be working extra hard to turn Dilson Herrera into a capable second basemen this month

It has been a very up and down beginning to Dilson Herrera’s big league career with the Mets. The youngest player in the big leagues hit his first big league homer Monday but has three errors on pretty routine plays in his first five big league games.

Herrera has shown a quick bat but is definitely a work in progress at second base like his predecessor, Daniel Murphy. Speaking of Murphy, the All-Star is not expected back anytime soon so Herrera will continue to play every day at second base.

Herrera can only get better with each big league game he plays. The Mets hope that he shows them enough offensively and defensively to plug him in as the everyday second basemen next year. BrokeMets has been reporting all year that the Mets are unlikely to pay Murphy’s $8.5-9 million in arbitration this winter and are far more likely to trade the second basemen.

Herrera is still just 20-years old and he should get much better defensively which is why it is so important that the Mets were able to get him playing time in what has become a lost season.

If the Mets can solve second base next season at the league minimum, that would give them a much better chance at filling their holes at shortstop and left field this winter.

Herrera is definitely a storyline to watch for the Mets for the remainder of the season.

Juan Lagares is emerging into a star

By Steven Inman index

Juan Lagares is coming off his best game as a major-league player. The centerfielder went 4-4 with a walk and stole two bases. Lagares has played so well that not even Terry Collins can take him out of the lineup.

Based on defensive runs saved Juan Lagares is rated as the best defensive outfielder in baseball. Lagares has a 5.6 WAR according to baseball reference. Usually when a player has a five win season, it means he is an All-Star caliber player.

Lagares’ WAR easily leads the Mets.

Lagares’ 5.6 WAR ranks 9th in baseball and is ahead of players like Troy Tulowitzki and Andrew McCutchen. Keep in mind that Lagares has missed 36 games this season as well so his WAR could be in even higher.

Am I saying that Lagares is as good as those two players? Absolutely not those guys are superstars who can change the game with one swing of the bat. Just keep in mind that Lagares has been great for the Mets this year and as his offensive game continues to improve, the future gold glove winner will emerge as a star.

Lagares reminds me of Carlos Gomez who also came up with the Mets before being traded in a package for Johan Santana. I could see Lagares developing the power that Gomez has, which would make him a complete All-Star player. Lagares’ numbers offensively are by far better than when Gomez was in his second big league season.

The 25-year old Lagares is under Met control through at least the 2019 season and should keep getting better and better.

The Mets have told Juan Lagares they want him to steal more bases to become a better offensive threat. The Mets figure since he can get such good jumps in the outfield, why can’t he get them on the bases.

After attempting just seven steals in his previous 94 games, Lagares has five steals in his last five games.

The sky is the limit for the man his teammates call “King”

 

 

Moving Travis d’Arnaud to left field makes no sense

By Steven InmanTravis d'Arnaud

Terry Collins told reporters Thursday that the Mets have had internal concussions about moving Travis d’Arnaud to left-field. Again these talks were just floated out there and aren’t likely to happen anytime soon. If that did occur however it would be a major mistake.

Travis d’Arnaud is batting .230 with a .292 OBP with 12 dingers and 32 RBI. He has dramatically improved from a dismal start but he has cooled off recently. While his numbers are okay for a catcher, they would be considered to be some of the worst among all left fielders.

His number would improve someone by moving out from behind the plate but likely not enough to justify playing in a corner outfield spot.

The reason why this was brought up (in an excellent article by the Daily News) is that d’Arnaud has already suffered at least four concussions and is only 25 years old. Obviously catchers are far more likely to receive concussions than any other position on the field but they are freak plays and there really isn’t a way to prevent them other than simply moving him off the position. Somebody is going to have to catch and if d’Arnaud continues to show improvements with the bat he can be a fine offensive catcher.

One Mets person told Andy Martino of the Daily News “We could be one bad foul tip from losing him for a long time.”

Obviously with Kevin Plawecki in the minors and playing well the Mets have the option of trading one of their catchers this off-season which is why it makes even less sense for Terry Collins to be talking publicly about moving Travis off the plate. All that would do is potentially lower his value.

D’Arnaud has really turned his season around but he wouldn’t hit enough to justify being an everyday outfielder. Also the Mets rookie catcher has never played the outfield professionally so how do we know he would be able to play out there. The last thing the Mets would need is another young player trying to learn a new position when the team is supposed to be contending.

The Dilson Herrera Era begins, what does it mean for Daniel Murphy?

By Steven Inman

After arriving in New York in 2008, Daniel Murphy is likely heading into his final month in Queens.

After arriving in New York in 2008, Daniel Murphy is likely heading into his final month in Queens.

Daniel Murphy has been dealing with a strained calf and it hasn’t improved at all with rest. As a result the Mets placed their lone All-Star representative on the disabled list. Anytime a player gets put on the DL at this time of the year with rosters about to expand in a few days, it means the player isn’t expected back anytime soon.

In a corresponding roster move the Mets called up top infield prospect Dilson Herrera. Herrera, 20, is the 18th youngest player to debut with the Mets ever. Herrera is ranked as the 8th best prospect by MLB.com. A strong minor league season probably gets Herrera a little higher up on this list next year. Keep in mind the Mets only view Herrera as a second basemen.

It was certainly a surprise that Herrera is being called up straight from Double-A. Herrera had to be added to the 40-man roster this winter anyway but there wasn’t much talk of the second basemen being called up until Murphy was placed on the DL. Herrera hit .340 with ten homers and 48 RBI in 61 games for Double-A Binghamton.

Herrera has been great in the minor leagues since coming over in a trade exactly a year ago from the Pirates with Vic Black for Marlon Byrd and John Buck. (Two rental players) This trade could go down as the most underrated trade Sandy Alderson has made as General Manager of the Mets.

BrokeMets has been reporting that the Mets are expected to trade Daniel Murphy this winter and you will now get a sneak peak at his replacement. Sandy Alderson and the rest of the front office have never been big Murphy fans. Remember Murphy was drafted by former GM Omar Minaya. Minaya, who has been working in the Padres front office the past few seasons and has been trying to acquire Murphy from the Mets for the past couple of years.

The Mets have no interest in paying Daniel Murphy the ten million or so it would take on a four year deal to lock up their second basemen so it makes sense from a baseball perspective to deal him this winter if he isn’t expected to be around long-term. Despite missing the past few games Murphy continues to lead the National League in hits with 159 and is expected to make around $8.5 million in his final year of arbitration. (For some other team)

The Mets offense has been horrendous this season, by far worse than what was expected. That being said this offense could get a little worse short-term if the Mets remove the NL’s hit leader and replace him with a rookie. A talented rookie, but still a rookie.

The Dilson Herrera ERA starts Friday night.

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