2/10/16

Lopez, Abbott & Natera Set to Return for 2016

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With the start of their 25th season 58 days away, the Binghamton Mets are proud to announce the return of manager Pedro Lopez, pitching coach Glenn Abbott and hitting coach Luis Natera for the 2016 season. Strength and conditioning coach Dane Inderrieden will also be back for his second season. Binghamton’s athletic trainer position will be filled at a later time.

Lopez, the all-time winningest manager in Binghamton Mets history, prepares for his fifth season steering the ship in the Southern Tier. The Puerto Rico native was inducted into Binghamton’s Baseball Shrine in 2015 after guiding the B-Mets to three consecutive postseason appearances.
Lopez etched his name into Binghamton baseball lore in 2014 when he established “six more wins” as the team’s season-long mission. Under his steady direction, the B-Mets accomplished the feat, winning a nail-biting five-game series in Portland before sweeping Richmond to bring the Eastern League crown back to Binghamton for the first time in two decades.

The 2013 Eastern League Manager of the Year has steadily climbed the Mets’ minor league managerial ladder with stops in St. Lucie (High-A), Savannah (Low-A), Brooklyn (SS-A) and Kingsport (R).

The former catcher logged 13 seasons in the minor leagues as a player after being drafted in the 21st round by the San Diego Padres in 1988. In 909 career games, he hit .247, clocked 49 home runs and drove in 338 runs while playing in the Padres, Brewers and Astros organizations.
Abbott returns to the Southern Tier for his fifth year as the B-Mets’ pitching coach. The Arkansas native has guided the pitching staff to an average of 82 victories over the past three seasons. Abbott’s 2015 staff matched a franchise record with a paltry .246 opponent batting average.
Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 8th round in 1969, Abbott spent 11 seasons in the Major Leagues as a starting pitcher for the A’s (1973-76), Seattle Mariners (1977-83) and Detroit Tigers (1983-84). Abbott compiled a 62-83 record and amassed a 4.39 ERA in 248 career games (206 starts). On September 28, 1975, he combined with Vida Blue, Paul Linblad and Rollie Fingers in the first four-pitcher no-hitter in MLB history.

This season marks Natera’s 25th with the Mets organization and ninth in the Southern Tier. He has served as a hitting coach at five different levels during that time, including stints with Buffalo (AAA, 2009), St. Lucie (High-A, 2007), Hagerstown (Low-A, 2005-06), Kingsport (Rookie, 2003-04), and Capital City (Low-A, 1999).

Natera served in his native country as coordinator of the Mets’ Dominican Academy in 2001 and 2002. He managed the Dominican Mets (Rookie) in 2002 and skippered the DSL Mets from 1992-1997.

Inderrieden returns for his second season at Double-A. The Marty, Minnesota native served in the same capacity with the St. Lucie Mets in 2014. He received his B.S. from St. Cloud State University and attained a master’s degree in Exercise Science from Northern Michigan University. He has also spent time with the Gulf Coast League Mets (2013) and Brooklyn Cyclones (2012).
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Reese Kaplan -- A Bullpen Reborn

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It wasn’t that long ago that the Mets bullpen featured such legendary arms as D.J. Carrrasco, Tim Byrdak, Dale Thayer and Mike O’Connor.  Then came Jenrry Mejia out of necessity when Bobby Parnell got hurt, but after one solid season he’s been a non-entity due to some bad decision making on his part.  Jeurys Familia was thrust into the role as next available man, and he turned in a season for the ages.  The cast around him, however, was less than stellar for most of the year.  Alex Torres, anyone?

This black hole has turned into something of a strength for the Mets as they learned last year in the second half what a powerful pen can do to shut down games.  Watching the Royals who perfected this approach clean up against the team had to reinforce what had already been gleaned through observation.  In today’s game it’s not merely about the closer. 

Towards that end the Mets made some good acquisitions, betting first on the recovery of Jerry Blevins, the late season audition of Addison Reed and the signing of solid lefty Antonio Bastardo to complement the formidable Familia.  However, lose in the shuffle were some of the other arms who turned in a number of quality appearances last year and who hopefully will continue to flourish as the team sets its sites on not just a World Series appearance, but a championship season.

Hansel Robles was a somewhat unheralded starting pitcher in the minors who could never seem to harness his live arm.  In 2014 in AA they began his transition to the bullpen and his strikeout rate advanced dramatically.  His role in the majors has been exclusively in relief and he’s been able to turn it up a notch or two whenever the situation demands it.  He finished his rookie season last year having appeared in 57 games with a respectable 3.67 ERA and an enviable 10.2 K/9 ratio.  He’ll start the 2016 season on the suspended list but look for him to get the ball quite a bit throughout the year.

Rule V pick Sean Gilmartin was quite a story last year.  He was a starting pitcher throughout his minor league career with 79 of his 80 appearances coming as a starter.  The Mets gambled he could be a lefty reliever for them when, at the time, they had none.  How did he do?  Well, in 50 low leverage games he finished with a 2.67 ERA, a respectable 8.5 K/9 IP, a 3:1 K to BB ratio and a paltry .230 BAA.  He’s made everyone forget Brad Emaus of Rule V infamy.  The irony is that he may not even crack the pen that goes north given the plethora of options the Mets now have.

Converted starter Erik Goeddel has also flourished since being thrust into the bullpen role.  After a 2014 Las Vegas record with a 5.37 ERA, it appeared that he had hit the wall.  Still, the Mets gave him a late season look and were encouraged by his 6 appearances that resulted in a 2.70 ERA and a tidy 1.050 WHIP.  In 2015 he put in 33 games at the major league level, and the ERA dropped to 2.43 with better than a strikeout per inning pitched, a WHIP of less than one baserunner per inning pitched and a BAA of just .195.  That’s pretty dominant stuff, folks.  The only problem with Goeddel lately has been health as he’s missed time each of the past couple of seasons due to arm and muscle issues, but he’s showing he belongs in the big leagues. 

I’ll leave out the cameo appearances by Logan Verrett, Rafael Montero, Dario Alvarez and others, but it appears that the Mets are well positioned both now and in the future with reinforcements named Josh Edgin and Jenrry Mejia coming down the pike as well.   It’s almost enough to make you forget Mel Rojas.   
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Mack’s Morning Report – 2-10-16 – David Wright, Delmon Young, Roger Bernadina, Mets Relievers

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Mack Ade 


Good morning.



David Wright can finally move to the second spot in the order, for which he’s arguably most well suited; and on Wright’s days off, Walker can bat second capably. This lineup alternates lefties and righties from top to bottom, and if Cabrera were to get the Opening Day start at shortstop, then the seventh and eighth positions would be occupied by switch-hitters. Walker, Flores and Cabrera all have power that belies a lower-third position–in a National League lineup. To find legitimate double-digit home run power in the lower third of the order, you’d normally look at an American League powerhouse like the Toronto Blue Jays (or the 2014 Oakland Athletics, when Cespedes was in their lineup and they were putting up football scores before one of the more baffling deadline deals in recent memory). But the 2016 Mets will have just such a lineup, along with what’s generally regarded as the best starting rotation in baseball.

Mack – I have to tell you that it is quite exciting to read baseball writers compare the 2016 Mets to teams like the ‘Murderer’s Row’…

Bob Gregory will remind us all of this might be only accomplished if both Wright and Travis d’Arnaud stay healthy all year. Even under those conditions I see Wright starting in less than 130 games and d’Arnaud could be in the same range.


From  Local10.com -

A Major League Baseball player was arrested Sunday night in Miami after he choked and threatened to kill a valet attendant, police said. Delmon Young, 30, faces a battery charge after the alleged incident at the Viceroy Miami. According to a Miami police report, Young grabbed a valet attendant by his neck and started to choke him after the attendant refused to let him into an elevator to a club at the Brickell hotel. The attendant told Young that the club was closed, but Young became irate and said, "Stupid Cuban. Open the (expletive) door. I'm here. Now what?" the report said. Young walked away, but returned moments later, demanding that the attendant open the door. After the attendant repeated that the club was closed, Young told him, "I'm gonna (expletive) kill you, you Latin piece of (expletive)," the report said.

Mack – I was a proponent of the Mets taking a chance of Young this past off season, but many have said that he had the personality of a lug wrench. After reading this, lug wrench might be a compliment.
Don’t look for him to be playing at the major league level this year.



I don’t understand this one, but the Mets signed OF Roger Bernadina to a minor league deal. You may remember the ex-Nats 31-year old outfielder that hit two home runs off of Mike Pelfrey and Francisco Rodriguez on 5-12-2010. He spent last year playing for Colorado at the AAA level, hitting .276 (373-AB) with 15-HR and 62-RBI.

I would speculate that this could be a good sign that Alejando de Aza will eventually be traded to another team and you could see this left-handed hitter in Queens as the fifth outfielder.


 Brad Johnson on Mets relievers -

I grew up as a Phillies fan. In my experience, Mets fans may be the only group less patient than the Phillies faithful. Jeurys Familia is coming off an excellent first season as the Mets closer. He should return to that role without competition. I’ve seen some fans continue to call for his head after he “blew” the World Series. And by that, I mean he had one bad game and his infield had two bad games.

Former DBacks closer Addison Reed will hang around for setup duties. Antonio Bastardo was imported for those tough lefty matchups. He’s a full-inning southpaw, but he can still shutdown same-handed hitters.

Hansel Robles could also factor in the late innings. The righty hums at 96 mph and produced elite whiff rates with the fastball. He did allow a few too many home runs with the pitch. His slider wasn’t a stand out pitch, but it was good enough for late innings work.

Lest you forget, former closer Jenrry Mejia has 99 days left on his second PED suspension. Assuming he’s smart enough to stop using PEDs, he could be an excellent mid-season addition to the bullpen. In 7.1 innings last season, Mejia picked up where he left off with big whiff rates and an improved walk rate. The small sample success is a good sign that he’s recovered from the elbow injury that originally opened the door for Familia.

Mack – Brad Johnson seemed to have one goal here and that was to remind all of baseball that the Mets have more than the top starters in the league.


This is a hell of a pitching baseball team.
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2/9/16

ODFL Spring Sendoff Event

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Mets Baseball

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15
STARTS AT 12 NOON
CITI FIELD - METS PLAZA
Get to Citi Field to help send the Mets off to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL. on Monday, February 15. In addition to the packing of the Mets equipment truck for the annual voyage, the Mets and Old Dominion Freight Line invite fans to go behind the scenes at Citi Field.
Join Old Dominion Freight Line as we pack up the Mets for Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL:


  • All fans will receive a voucher for two (2) free tickets to a select April home game

  • Tour the Press Conference Room, Mets Clubhouse and Dugout (tours will be given on a first come, first served basis)

  • 1969 Met Ed Kranepool will be signing autographs on the Mets Plaza starting at 12 noon

  • Opportunity to participate in a raffle to win 3 day/2 night all expenses paid trip to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL and other great autographed prizes
RSVP Now
All fans will receive complimentary parking in Lot G. Please enter through the Hodges entrance for access to Citi Field.

http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/nym/ticketing/odfl.jsp


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Tom Brennan - SUPER BOWL IS OVER - NOW WHAT?

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SUPER BOWL IS OVER - NOW WHAT? - Tom Brennan
"The Super Bowl is over.  NOW what?"


A simple answer - we shortly begin an 8 month journey to the World Series and the coronation of the World Champion New York Mets.  Time to climb on board the Success Train for an exhilarating ride, ending with a trip up the Canyon of Heroes.


Am I optimistic? Nah, just realistic.


For starters, we have unreal starting pitching, which will get unrealer (my new word) when Zach Wheeler returns as an ace quality starter in July.  It could be one of the best rotations in baseball history.  Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz, and Wheeler?  Whoosh!  Colon, winner of 29 games the past 2 years, to hold the fort until Zach returns.  Montero ready to deal if need be.  Sean Gilmartin to imitate Jon Niese if need be.


Bullpen?  Addison Reed, J- rees Familia, and Senor Bastardo?  Great trio. And after that, plenty of good arms.  Pen will rock, and that's no bull.

After opposing teams contemplate the nightmare of facing that starting pitching and pen day after day, at least they can take solace in the fact that the Mets offense will stink like it did the first 15 weeks of 2015, right?  Wrong.  I take offense to that line of thinking.

After all, we have "Senor Cigar", Yoenis Cespedes, ready to make the New York Mets great again.  
Who else will hit with authority? How about David Wright, Lucas Duds, Curtis Granderson, Travis d'Arnaud, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto, Alejando de Aza, and Kevin Plawecki. By my count, 12 solid-to-dangerous offensive players. And the pitchers can hit too, right, Bartolo?  Whoo hoo!

Yeah, defensively we can be better, but with that rotation, pen, and offense, the party time will be continual at Citifield in 2016. Hope to see you there.  Tons of fans, which means tons of revenue, which means we sign all our pitchers to extensions.  So 2016 is just the start.

Met fans, we're going places.  All aboard the 100 Win Express.
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Mack’s Morning Report - 2-9-16 – April Schedule, #1 Exciting Team, Mets/Nats, 2016 Phillies

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Good morning.


Mike Delcos takes a close look at the Mets early 2016 schedule –

I’ll bitch about this later, but the first game of the season shouldn’t be interleague. However, if it is going to be that way, then why not make the first series be against the World Series opponents? I mean, if MLB is hell bent on interleague play, then this should be a new Opening Day tradition. It won’t be because the schedule is released before the end of the World Series.

OK, there are two games against the Royals on the road, followed by three-game series at home against the Phillies and Marlins.

That’s followed by three games at Cleveland – the Indians have one of the best rotations in the sport – and three more against at Philly and Atlanta.

The Mets end April with three games with Cincinnati and two with the Giants, who also have one of the game’s best rotations.

Mack – Delcos says this is bad news, but, for the hell of it, let’s look a little deeper:

Kansas City – 2 games – 95-67  –     2 game total -   190 - 134
Philadelphia – 6 games – 63-99  -    6 game total  -  378  - 594
Miami – 3 games  -  71-91                3 game total  -  213  -  273
Cleveland – 3 games – 81-80    –  3 game total –     243  -  240
Atlanta -3 games  -  67-95    -      3 game total  -     201 - 285
Cincy – 3 games  -  64-98   -         3 game total  -     192  -  294
S F  -  2 games       84-78  -          2 game total  -     168  -  156  

                                                Total 21 games – 1585 - 1976

                  Well, I don’t know about you, but the April schedule looks just fine with me, especially since there are three days off between the two Kansas City games, which could lead to all kinds of piggy-back situations coming out of out clubhouse.


 The Bleacher Report ranks the Mets as the number one ‘exciting team to watch’ in 2016 –

According to Andrew Simon of MLB.com, the Mets led baseball with 5,346 pitches of 95 mph or more in 2015. Here's a bit of context to explain just how ridiculous that figure is, per Simon: "That's nearly 1,000 more pitches than the second-place [Cleveland] Indians (4,455) and more than double the totals of 14 teams."

When it comes to the starters, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom deserve much of the credit for that impressive feat.

Meanwhile, from the bullpen, Jeurys Familia is the guy who brings the heat. Per the calculations of MLB.com, Familia's sinker averaged 97.32 mph, which explains how he punched out 86 batters in 78 frames.

Mack – These numbers are incredible, but the most incredible is a 97.32 MPH sinker. I said sinker, not fastball. Can you imagine trying to hit this?
And pundits say Familia is going to regress. Well, not if he continues to throw a 97.32 sinker.


The Dude of NY: I forget: do you think the Mets or Nationals have the upper hand in 2016?

Jeff Sullivan: I think the Mets have a slight edge, but I think the two teams are closer than they’re perceived to be. I like the Mets’ depth at the moment, but then I also think the Nationals are more likely to go out and get better, like, say, behind the plate

                            Mack – I agree with Jeff.

                  The Nationals are not afraid of either making a change or spending additional money to improve their position. I also think they will be under a tremendous amount of local press/fan pressure to win the division and not repeat what happened in 2015.

                  It would surprise me if they played the 2016 season with Spencer Kleboom, Jose Lobaton, Wilson Ramos, and Pedro Severino behind the plate.


Paul Swydan Paul Swydan on the 2016 Phillies –

It’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will be a good team in 2016. But they have a solid mix of players who should make for an entertaining brand of baseball, and the franchise has done a great deal to turn things around in the last year. They have very few old and fading veterans, a healthy dose of players who are not only exciting, but as Corinne Landrey recently pointed out, are excited for each other. They even have an interesting reclamation project in Peter Bourjos. It won’t all be wine and roses — let’s not speak of the bullpen — but it is the type of team that you can dream on, and that’s exciting.
          
            Mack – An interesting article.

Yes, I agree that Philadelphia will not compete in 2016. And I also agree that they will have a lot of young players. But that doesn’t mean they have the right young players.


It simply will take time… maybe the 2016 season… to see if they can compete the following year.
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2/8/16

Mack’s Morning News – 2-8-16 – Desmond Lindsay, Jeurys Familia, Lucas Duda, Zack Wheeler

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Good morning.

Jacob Resnick on Desmond Lindsay

The Mets used their top draft pick on Lindsay a year ago, making him the fourth high school bat selected by Sandy Alderson
with his highest selection. Coming out of school, Desmond Lindsay was a third baseman with a quick bat and speed to match. He moved to center field upon entering the organization, where his quickness allowed him to navigate the outfield. Although he hit over .300 in the Gulf Coast League, Lindsay struck out 35% of the time across two levels, didn’t show much power, but that should come as he progresses. Most scouts believe he has five-tool potential, and should at the very least develop into a well rounded threat at the top of the order.

Mack – Striking out 35% of the time isn’t going to get you anywhere in this game and this is the one stat that Lindsay has to immediately work on.
I never had Lindsay in my top 200 prospect list when the Mets drafted him. 

The Mets seem to be wanting to surprise us more when they pick their first round pick rather than go with the status quo and choose the guy that all the pundits say are ‘can’t miss’.

The new approach by the Mets to actually spend money does eliminate a fair amount of pressure on the prospect system, but I do agree with Ernest Dove that the more kids that work out could create a situation that the Mets can spend future money on contract extensions to one or more of their star starting pitchers.

Let’s face it… the combined salary of David Wright, Yoenes Cespedes, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom does have the potentional to excel $100mil on their own.


 Glenn Brewer on Jeurys Familia

          FanGraphs’ projection system has Familia pegged to pitch 65 innings with 34 saves and a 3.16 ERA. While I moderate drop-off from Familia’s stellar 2015 should arguably be expected, I believe this to be too steep. In my non-scientific projection, I think Familia will save between 36 and 38 games while posting an ERA of 3.01. And although his workload should be lower this season, Familia will reach the 70 innings mark again.

All in all, Familia will take a small step back in 2016, but will continue to cement his role as closer while helping to lead the Mets to another successful campaign.

Mack – I don’t understand how blog-pundits can definitively state that someone is going to regress. You can say you think they will, but, anything other than that is unfounded.

Me?

I happen to ‘think’ that Familia will punch out better stats. The Mets lineup should consistently produce more runs… the top rotation in the league should create the most leads into the late innings… and the combination of Antonio Bastardo and Addison Reed should take additional pressure off Familia.

My guess there will be less one-run save situations for Familia to participate in.


Rob Rogan on Lucas Duda

There’s one player that no one seems to be talking about much: Lucas Duda. It’s not surprising. At 6’4” but as reserved as any ballplayer out there, Duda is hard to miss. Still, he seems to find himself faded into the background noise more often than not. Unless he’s going on one of his tears at the plate, of course. What people should be talking about, however, is how he’s quietly put his head down and become one of the best hitters in baseball and a top ten first baseman since officially taking over the duty at the start of the 2014 season.

During those two years, Duda has averaged a wRC+ of 135, 17th best in the majors. If we consider only first basemen, he shoots up to number eight. If we consider his 6.4 total fWAR over those two seasons, his performance is slightly less remarkable. He’s a scratch defender at first, essentially, and provides no value on the base paths. He basically provides all of his value with his bat. That’s still pretty impressive, considering that 6.4 fWAR still puts him at number 10 for first basement through 2014-2015.
Mack – You all know my opinion on Duda. My only criticism has always been his hot/cold approach to the game.

Let me ask you a question…

What if Duda eliminated his cold streaks, hit consistently in the .275+ range, and still hit 30+ home runs…

Would you still give this job over to Dominic Smith?


Lynn Worthy on Zack Wheeler -

Wheeler struck out 25 percent of the batters he faced in the Eastern League, best of any starting pitcher that season. He ranked fourth in the league in walks plus hits per inning pitched (1.16) and batting average against (.225). He gave up just two home runs and issued 43 walks in 116 innings in 19 starts (one complete game).

An Eastern League All-Star and MLB All-Star Futures selection, Wheeler went 10-6 in his 19 starts. At the time of his promotion to Triple-A, the B-Mets had 53 wins.

Wheeler lit up the ballpark whenever he took the mound. By the middle of the 2012 season, the chatter among scouts on their trips to NYSEG Stadium was that Wheeler was far too good to be at Double-A.


          Mack – I remember this year vividly. I spoke to many of my scout contacts that year and they all projected Wheeler ahead of Matt Harvey. Both have had Tommy John Surgery so both have an equal chance of excelling. What we have to do now is have some patience regarding Wheeler, let him spend the rest of 2016 getting his arm strong, and hopefully, putting it all together in 2017.
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2/7/16

Mack’s Morning News – 2-7-16 – Mike Francesa, Bernie Madoff, Antonio Bastardo, Curtis Granderson

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Good morning.

I’m not sure how newsworthy this is, but the Gotham Sports Network offered this up about Mike Francesa’s… err… well, read this

No, you didn’t misread the headline. Jay Glazer, NFL Insider at Fox, provided us with this rock solid evidence when he joined CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones for a segment yesterday. Glazer obtained this information first hand when he was an intern at WFAN a while back:

“I got to run for Francesa, and then—my first really solid assignment was at the NFL Draft in ‘91. I got to take Mike Francesa back and forth from the bathroom. And, I’m not gonna lie, copped a couple of peeks. It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing. He is like—he should be in porn. He really should.”

Mack – There had to be a thousand other things we could have started this report off with, especially since you probably are reading this while you are eating your breakfast.



Did you manage to catch the two-part, four-hour made-for-television movie aired by ABC on Bernie Madoff? I first found it quite surprising that the Wilpons and the Mets weren’t even mentioned, but, in the World of Madoff, they look like small fish compared to the investors mentioned in that movie. He definitely seemed like quite the son of a bitch and it probably would still be going on if it wasn’t for the banking industry collapse back in 2008.



Matt Ehalt on  Antonio Bastardo -

"If our pitchers dominate from the first to the sixth or seventh inning, [opponents] aren’t going to have a chance. They’ll be frustrated from beginning to end. The team was in the World Series and competed the whole year. That makes me think we can be in that spot this year, for sure. If you see the starting pitching we have, and the hitters we have, all that makes you think about being in the World Series with these guys."
                 
                     Mack – I love confidence and Bastardo seems like my kind of guy.
I just have this kind of feeling that this is going to be a magical season. Everybody seems to be in the right direction with the right attitude.


Curtis Granderson on Black History Month

Black History Month is a time to remember the important contributions and achievements of African-Americans throughout our nation's history. Personally, the observation of black history is a time for me to reflect on all those who have come before me in the African-American community and their countless sacrifices and struggles, shaping the way for future generations -- including my own.

In addition to Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, George Washington Carver and other leaders in the African-American community, I also celebrate my grandparents and parents, who accomplished so much in an effort to provide opportunity for my family. Learning from my elders about how things were and how things have changed has helped me understand the importance of hard work -- encouraging me to "play hard" every day and pay it forward for generations to come.

In recent years, there's been a tremendous decline in African-American baseball engagement. Less than 8 percent of Major League Baseball athletes are African-American, accented by a growing decline in inner-city youth baseball. Through my Grand Kids Foundation, we've focused a tremendous amount of energy and resources toward providing inner-city youth baseball opportunities -- including most recently, the development of Curtis Granderson Stadium at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in which more than 10,000 kids from Chicago's inner city can safely "play ball" all year long.


Black History Month is a great time to reflect, but it's an equally important time to engage the community and continue to make societal changes. I look forward to doing my part to instill change and will continue to follow in the late Jackie Robinson's footsteps -- on Jackie Robinson Day, when I wear a custom New Balance cleat in his honor, and all year long.
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2/6/16

Reese Kaplan -- Looking Ahead to 2017's Lineup

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This week former Mets wunderkind Doc Gooden proclaimed the pitching staff the 2016 team has the stuff on which dynasties are built. That lofty praise is accepted as common wisdom by most fans and the results the team has seen from Messrs. Harvey, de Grom, Syndergaard, Matz and Wheeler are certainly enviable. However, what about the lineup the team will provide to match these golden arms? Will they be able to put up enough offense to give the Mets a chance to win on a nightly basis?
The biggest and most surprising acquisition of this off-season was the eleventh hour contract signed by Yoenis Cespedes. His market never developed as his agents had hoped and he opted to take a variation of what's come to be known as a pillow contract – a one year deal designed to allow him to reestablish his value as one of the game's top sluggers. In other players' cases, these contracts are low cost one year deals designed to let a player prove his worth after either an off-year or an injury-lost year in order to cash in with a longer term deal the following season.
What differs here are two aspects. First, the one year deal is monstrous – the largest in team history. Although some of it is structured as signing bonus and some as salary, the net result is a $27.5 million payday for Cespedes to help try to let the Mets go for it all in 2016. Second, the deal is for three years with a player opt-out. It's a little puzzling in that the risk is really more on the Mets than it is on Cespedes. If he produces as everyone hopes, then he could very well test the market once again. However, if he either doesn't produce or decides he really likes it here, then the Mets are on the hook for two more years of $23.5 million per season. I'm betting he never tests the waters as he found this year that the AAV of contracts exceeding $23.5 million are not exactly cluttering up agents' desks. I'd pencil him in for 2017 and 2018 as well.
The next highest valued player is the former face of the franchise, David Wright. While everyone holds their collective breath wondering what his spinal stenosis means for his playing future, the fact remains that the Mets are on the hook for $20 million, $20 million, $15 million and $12 million that makes him a very well paid player through the end of the 2020 season.
The next player earning big bucks is Curtis Granderson. His first year in the blue and orange was not what they'd hoped for him when they gave him the $64 million contract. Last year he earned his paycheck and also somewhat surprisingly thrived in the role of leadoff hitter given his paltry stolen base numbers and high strikeout totals. Oddly, a solid 2016 might put him squarely on the trading block in 2017 as he might be appealing to another club needing a one-year answer in their lineup.
Newly acquired Neil Walker is as good as gone for 2017. He's already earning more than Daniel Murphy ever did and even with a great contract year season the fact remains the Mets have inexpensive options for next year. There's Dilson Herrera, Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cecchini (with Asdrubal Cabrera shifting to second...it doesn't seem like anything Walker could do would keep him in Queens. In fact, if Herrera is tearing it up in AAA I wouldn't be surprised to see Walker peddled in July.
Asdrubal Cabrera seemed to be something of a panic move in that he's not exactly Ozzie Smith with the glove and his offense was a tick below what Wilmer Flores provided last year. Still, with the overall weak up-the-middle defense any step in the right direction to correct it is probably welcome. He's not getting overpaid and he could shift to the other side of the infield if Cecchini can build on his stellar season in 2015 with a full season in Las Vegas.
Next on the payroll pecking order is big Bartolo Colon. He's also gone at year's end (if not sooner) as Zack Wheeler assumes his role as starting pitcher in his place in July.
This season is pivotal for Lucas Duda who's earning a modest $6.725 this year, but another 25-30 HR season could net him close to $10 million in 2017. Again, the money to pay the pitchers has to come from somewhere and they may well decide he's potentially going to cost more than he produces. Still, with a team somewhat bereft of sluggers it may not be prudent to pull the trigger in favor of the unproven (and thus far not power-hitting) Dominic Smith.
Alejandro De Aza is overpaid to sit on the bench at $5.75 million, but I've come to terms with it thinking about what Juan Uribe earned last year in a similar role Uribe got 397 ABs which were probably expected for De Aza at the time he was signed but delivered 14/43/.253 while being paid $6.5 million. De Aza would likely deliver that or better if given the same number of Abs. Unfortunately for the Mets the premature signing at this price point was rendered somewhat superfluous with the reacquisition of Cespedes. It's all water under the bridge and it's likely De Aza won't last the year in a Mets uniform anyway.
I've probably been more critical of Ruben Tejada than anyone, but the $3 million he's earning this year isn't going to bankrupt the team. In a way, it's money more well spent for his defined role than the nearly double that allocated to De Aza. Still, you have to wonder if a minimum wage guy like Matt Reynolds could achieve the same .255 average with no speed and no power that Tejada provides in hopefully very limited playing time behind Cabrera. I can't see him having a future with the team with Gavin Cecchini at minimum wage knocking on the door.
Just as it's a pivotal year for Duda, it's also a critical one for Juan Lagares. He's set to earn $4.5 million in 2017, $6.5 million in 2018, and $9 million in 2019 with a 2020 option for $9.5 million with a $500K. The money is modest for a Gold Glove caliber outfielder but excessive for a 4th outfielder. Success on the field could lead them to keep him and trade the more expensive Granderson. Or another way to go is keep the starting outfield intact for one more year and trade Lagares. Finally, at $4.5 million for 2017, that's still less than they're paying De Aza for this year, so they could just keep him.
While none of the rest of the offensive players will earn significant money in 2016, there are still things to consider. For example, would moving Travis d'Arnaud to another position make sense? What about shifting David Wright across the diamond where he might not have to be as mobile as 3B would require him to be? Those decisions could impact Lucas Duda's future with the team as well.   
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