September 20th 2014 -- Mets 4, Braves 2

Saturday night in Atlanta, Curtis Granderson and Dilson Herrera went deep and Jon Niese handled the rest as the Mets beat the Braves 4-2. Mike Minor started for the Braves and gave up a run in the top of the first on a sac-fly by Lucas Duda. Minor left the game after 1 with a shoulder issue. David Hale relieved Minor and in the 2nd Herrera greeted him with a two run homer, his 3rd on the year to make it 3-0 Mets. Herrera also left the game after he pulled a leg muscle running out an infield hit in the 6th.  In the 8th Granderson made it 4-0 with a solo homer, his 19th on the year.  The Braves broke through with 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th thanks to a 2 run single by Freddie Freeman off Josh Edgin. Niese  went 7 1/3 he allowed 7 hits 2 runs (both earned) he walked 1 and struck out 5 he gets the win improving to 9-11, Minor gets the loss falling to 6-12. Jenrry Mejia pitched the 9th for his 27th save of the year. The Mets have taken the first two games of their three game set with the Braves. They now stand at 75-80 on the year and are 37-40 on the road. Sunday is their last game in Atlanta for 2014. Jacob deGrom (8-6  2.68) goes for the Mets, Ervin Santana (14-9 3.74) goes for the Braves. 

2015 Draft Profile - SS/2B - Alex Bregman - LSU - UPDATED 9-11-14


9-11-14 – Fangraphs Top 50 Players in Draft - 12. Alex Bregman, SS, LSU: One of the most famous players in college baseball had a bit of a down sophomore campaign and some scouts think he still fits better at 2B as a pro, but he flashes four above average tools and double-digit homer power from a simple swing. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2015-mlb-draft-top-51/

8-14-14 - 4. Alex Bregman, SS (Louisiana State, Jr.). The consensus Freshman of the Year in 2013, he wasn't as spectacular at LSU or with Team USA as a sophomore. Bregman still paced the college national team in runs (20), RBIs (17) and steals (10), and he still drew Dustin Pedroia comparisons for his all-around package of tools. Bregman is an aggressive right-handed hitter with pull power, and his instincts enable his average-to-solid speed and arm strength to play up on the bases and in the field. He's not as fluid as a typical Major League shortstop, so most scouts project him as a second baseman.
"Bregman always hits and he hits it hard," an area scout said. "He has some power and speed, and I think he has a chance to play shortstop."   http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/kyle-funkhouser-leads-list-of-top-prospects-on-team-usa?ymd=20140814&content_id=89585038&vkey=news_mlb 

7-21-14 - The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team defeated Japan 6-3 to win the championship game at the 27th edition of the Haarlem-Honkbal Week at Pim Mulier Stadium on Sunday.
The Honkbal Week championship is the fourth in the history of the Collegiate National Team, having previously won the title in 2000, 2002 and 2008. It now holds an all-time record of 29-5 in the tournament.
Three U.S. players earned individual awards with Chris Okey (Clemson) claiming the "Carl Angelo Most Popular Player" award, Christin Stewart (Tennessee) taking home "Best Hitter" honors and Alex Bregman (LSU) being named the Honkbal Week Most Valuable Player.

B/R - LSU's Alex Bregman is the version of Trea Turner, a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, I always wanted to see. The Tigers shortstop has a slight build at 6'0" and 180 pounds but generates good pop. Bregman's strength comes from the wrists because there's very little load to his swing. He takes a short stride toward the mound, but his back elbow is set up high, and his hands are in position to move forward as soon as he decides to pull the trigger. There's plenty of bat speed to help him turn around good fastballs in pro ball. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2085268-mlb-mock-draft-2015-brs-official-early-predictions-for-next-years-top-10/page/2

7-7-14 -  
LSU SS Alex Bregman really stung ball today. Hard contact in 3/5 PAs. HR to LF. Quick hands, ball really jumps of bat. Played well at SS

6-30-14 – Through The Fence – Early College Prospects - 3. Alex Bregman, SS, LSU - I could talk about Bregman all day. I have been a fan since his Team USA Baseball days in high school, and you aren’t going to find a better leader and person out there — on and off the field. Aside from his intangibles and instincts for the game, he also happens to be a damn good player. After a freshman season in which he hit 369/.417/.546 over 67 games with 18 doubles, seven triples, six home runs and 16 stolen bases, the 6’-1” right-hander put up impressive numbers again this year. Over 63 games, he hit .316/.397/.455 with 16 doubles, six home runs and 12 stolen bases. He has drawn 51 walks to just 46 strikeouts over 130 career games, showing an advanced approach at the plate. More power should come as he matures, and he has all the tools to stick at shortstop but could end up at second base at the next level. http://throughthefencebaseball.com/2015-mlb-draft-early-30-college-prospects/43327

6-21-14 -  
LSU 2B Alex Bregman showed incredibly quick hands in smashing a line drive double down the LF line for CNT today. Ran 4.20 to 1b in next PA

6-4-14  -  Mack - LSU SS/2B Alex Bregman is what you would call a pure hitter. He led his college team in hits, doubles, triples, and steals... as a freshman... earning him Baseball America's Freshman of the Year. He has a fair amount of pop and it's tough to find a weakness in his game. Scouts said he easily would have been one of the top ten picks in 2014, if he was eligible. Right now, I project him in the 1-3 range.


Reese Kaplan - Who's Out There That Will Fit a Third World Payroll?

One of the toughest things for a GM to do is trade prospects for prospects.  Neither GM wants to be on the receiving end of the one who fails.  It’s always safer to deal for someone who has proven some modicum of success in the major leagues than to stick your neck out for the next Bill Pulsipher.  Sometimes minor league numbers are deceptive and other times the next level of competition exposed the flaws that were always there but never fully exploited. 

Despite the unlikely nature of this type of deal taking place, I spent some time researching outfielders who are in AA or AAA and likely to help at the major league level in the near future.  It was a frustrating exercise that made me realize how much the Mets also need to look long and hard at Yasmani Tomás given the dearth of power hitting talent throughout all of the majors’ organizations.  Still, there were a few less-than-household names who might be worth considering when calling upon the other GMs in baseball who might crave starting pitching or middle infielders from the Mets.

Dariel Alvarez, Baltimore Orioles
One of the less heralded Cuban players, Alvarez put together a  very solid 2014 campaign split between AA/AAA with a 15/87/.306 slash line.  Perhaps most impressive is the fact he only struck out 62 times in well over 500 at-bats.  He’s a little bit older than the competition at 25 but his performance makes him look like a reasonable option.

Randal Grichuk, Los Angeles Angels
Here’s a guy who’s shown 18-25 HR power in each of his past three seasons.  He doesn’t strike out very much (highest total during that period was 108).  The problem with him is batting average.  After two years ago posting a nice .298, the next two seasons showed .256 and .259 respectively.  Whether or not he can evolve beyond that level is questionable.

Steven Moya, Detroit Tigers
This guy seemed to come from out of nowhere to put together a monster year for Erie in AA.  His slash line of 35/105/.276 far exceeded what he’s done in the past, but it suggests he might be worth a roll of the dice that it continues.   The increased power did come with a big increase in strikeouts, but at 6’6” and 230 pounds he’s built like Giancarlo Stanton.  If he could become 75% of the player he is, that’s pretty solid. 

Domingo Santana, Houston Astros
Another giant at 6’5 and 225, Santana has put together HR totals of 23, 25 and 16 each of the past three years.  The batting average went up and down from .302 to .252 and back up to .296 this year.  He averages about 145 Ks per year which is about average for someone showing 20+ HR power.  He played AAA at just 21 years of age, so it’s possible there’s some room to grow and improve as he gets more experience. 

Some Players With Major League Experience

Michael Choice, Texas Rangers
The former top Oakland A’s prospect has fallen on hard times for the woeful Texas Rangers.  He’s a career .288 minor league hitter who has slugged as many as 30 HRs in a season and driven in as many as 89.  His strikeout totals are low for a slugger, so perhaps a change of scenery could turn his fortunes around, though I wouldn’t bet the farm on it happening.

Tyler Moore, Washington Nationals
The poor guy is probably nicknamed Mary, but I won't hold it against him.  While he’s no longer a kid at 27, Moore has played parts of three seasons in the majors where he’s slugged 17 HRs and driven in 62 in 403 major league at-bats.  In the minors he’s twice posted 30+ HR seasons with as many as 111 RBIs.  With the logjam of talented outfielders in Washington it’s not likely he will get a starting role anytime soon, but it couldn’t cost very much to acquire a spare part like that and see if he could handle steady play in LF for the Mets. 

Scott Van Slyke, Los Angeles Dodgers
I have to admit my first reaction when I saw people advocating Andy's son was to question why.  It's obvious that he will not get a shot in LA with 5 other outfielders vying for 3 slots, so he would be far more available than the power hitting and speedy Joc Pederson.  However, I went and looked up what he's done and was somewhat pleasantly surprised.  In parts of 3 seasons he's slugged 20 HRs and driven in 50 in just 377 ABs.  That's pretty impressive.  He's a career .295 hitter in the minors with two seasons of over 20 HRs, posting 92 and 100 RBI totals.  Like Tyler Moore, he's a spare part who likely wouldn't cost very much to obtain.


Morning Report – September 20 – Juan Lagares, Jacob deGrom, Braves Update, Matt Reynolds, Philadelphia Phillies

Since June 25th, Zack Wheeler is 8-2, 2.56 in 15-ST, 91.3-IP.

Juan Lagares was tremendous as a rookie in 2013, finishing second among all center fielders with 26 Runs Saved despite playing just 108 games. This season, he has 28 Runs Saved in only 87 games. Lagares has exceptional range, but it’s his arm that stands out the most. Since 2013, Lagares has 15 baserunner kills (throwing out baserunners without the use of a relay man), the most at the position. - Most Defensive Runs Saved through 8-19-14  -  Jason Heyward: 32, Juan Lagares: 28, Alex Gordon: 20, Lorenzo Cain: 20, Zack Cozart: 19.  

Mack – His shutdown this week is going to cost him any chance of catching Heyward. That’s okay. The baseball world knows what the Mets have here.

What do the Mets have here? 

Well, he’s probably the best defensive centerfielder in baseball, is 25-years old, and is under team control into the next decade.

All this from a shortstop that led the Sally League in errors in 2007.

August Fagerstrom on Jacob deGrom’s record breaking strikeouts -

And, aside from the eight straight whiffs, those numbers aren’t even that shocking when you consider what deGrom has done so far. His ERA actually went up after Monday’s start, from 2.62 to 2.68. His FIP dropped from 2.88 to 2.72. You’ll notice those are both exceptionally low figures. Of all starting pitchers who have thrown more than 130 innings, his ERA ranks 14th, right behind Zack Greinke and a few spots ahead of Jordan Zimmermann. His FIP is ninth, better than that of Jon Lester, David Price and Adam Wainwright. I could go on with more examples like this, but the point is, deGrom will soon finish the season with a sample of work that – while smaller than most – is not small enough to be insignificant. And over that four-month sample, he has been one of the 15 best starting pitchers in baseball. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/jacob-degroms-breakout-season-in-eight-batters/

Mack – We’re going to keep reading a lot of positive press about deGrom before the season ends and into the off-season. Every General Manager in baseball is sending scouts and cross-checkers to games deGee will be pitching in. He will be a hot item in the Hot Stove season and let’s all hope that Sandy Alderson doesn’t give this blue chip up easily, or, at all.

Drew Fairservice on the 2015 Atlanta Braves -

Decide on one of Heyward or Upton and trade the other – money will always be a challenge for the Braves, who cry poor often enough that they might actually believe it themselves. Both Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are destined for free agency at the end of 2015. They are both very young and about to become very expensive. They offer similar production in two very different shapes. It won’t be an easy decision, should they decide to move one and build around the other. Perhaps the Braves will attempt to keep the current outfield intact for one more season and then let them both walk, recouping draft picks for complete franchise overhaul. Either way, these are valuable trade chips and the temptation to move them will be strong.

Fixing a team one year removed from 96 wins shouldn’t be a difficult task, but the choices before Wren and the Braves front office are tough indeed. There are many nice pieces in place right now but the Atlanta Braves team that takes the field on Opening Day next season could easily feature a whole host of new names and faces.

Mack – Read the story (Drew Fairservice… what a great name).

The Braves are the perfect example of how quickly a team can fall from grace. We’re so immune from this because of the years of graceless existence we have had in this game.

The Braves are also a great example of how easy it is to overspend on someone you think is a great bat… Uggla… Upton.

Matt Reynolds - The shortstop played well enough at Triple-A to be considered for the Mets job next year, along with Wilmer Flores and whoever else the organization brings in (we wouldn’t be shocked to see Ruben Tejada gone). Alderson said: “We think (Reynolds) can play shortstop, and he’ll be in the mix. He doesn’t have to be on the (40-man) roster, which is a little bit of a handicap in our system, because we have so many players.” Said Reynolds, who was denied a Sept. callup for roster reasons: “I was disappointed because I wanted to get up here and compete, but I’m not mad about it. It’s obviously a business decision. They have an idea of what’s going on, and it just gives me a lot o motivation this offseason to work hard.” 

 Our search for a new SS and/or LF continues with a look at the last team in the NL East… the Philadelphia Phillies.

According to Cot[i], the Phillies 2014 salaries are $177,729,967.

This is a very old team with far too many lengthy contracts to discuss here. We’ll just concentrate on the outfielders and shortstop.

This the last year of 35-year old SS Jimmy Rollins (536-AB, .243) contract ($11mil) and I would be very surprised if the Phillies resign him. He’s played 15 years in major league baseball, all for the Phillies, and he wants to finish his career exactly where he started it. The Mets won’t go after him. There’s too much history here.

Outfield wise, Marlon Byrd (532-AB, .265, 25-HR) has one more year left ($8mil)… Ben Revere (517-AB, .315) just finished his first arbitration year at $1.95mil… and ex-prospect Dominic Brown (424-B, .223) is still trying to find his way. 31-year old Grady Sizemore has been the most reliable 4th outfielder (134-AB, .291).
Prospect wise, it’s going to take a few years for top prospect, SS J.P. Crawford, to be ready to step up. OF Aaron Altherr is also two years away.

Mack Observation – Philadelphia has a ton of problems, starting with three aging players (Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels) making a combined $73.5mil next year in salaries. Sizemore is a free agent and could make a cheap alternative as the 5th outfielder. 

Other than that, I’d move on.



September 19th 2014 -- Mets 5, Braves 0

Friday night in Atlanta, Daniel Murphy went 4 for 5 and Zach Wheeler tossed his 21st quality start of the season, the Mets blank the Braves 5-0.  It was a nice pitching duel between Wheeler and Julio Teheran, but Teheran blinked first when Lucas Duda hit a line drive 2 run homer to right field off him in the 6th to give the Mets a lead they never relinquished. For Duda it was home run # 28 he now has 85 RBI on the year.   The Mets scored 3 more in the top of the 9th.  Jordan Walden walked Dilson Herrera with the bases loaded to make it 3-0. Then Eric Young Jr. singled driving in two to make it 5-0. Wheeler went 6 innings allowing just 5 hits he walked 2 and struck out 7. He gets the win improving to 11-10.  Teheran takes the loss falling to 13-13.  Daniel Murphy had a great game going 4 for 5, he almost went 5-5 but in the 9th he hit a seed to second base that ended the inning.  Andrelton Simmons had 3 hits for the Braves.  The Mets start their final road trip of the season with a win on the night they were mathematically eliminated from the post season.  The Mets now stand at 74-80 overall and 36-40 on the road.  Saturday night it’s game two of the series, Jonathon Niese (8-11 3.55) goes for the Mets, Mike Minor (6-11  4.74) goes for Atlanta. 

2015 Draft Profile - RHP - Kyle Funkhouser - Louisville - UPDATED 9-11-14


9-11-14 – Fangraphs Top 50 Players in Draft - 10. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville: The 6’2/220 righty sits 92-94 and bumps 96 mph with a plus slider and a solid-average changeup, but his command still comes and goes at times. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2015-mlb-draft-top-51/

8-14-14 - 1. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP (Louisville, Jr. in 2015). He helped Louisville reach the College World Series by tying for the NCAA Division I lead with 13 victories, then led Team USA with 36 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. Funkhouser is the best bet from the pitching staff to pitch near the front of a Major League rotation. His top pitch is his 92-96 mph fastball, and he also has a quality changeup and an effective slider. Funhouser has a strong 6-foot-2, 218-pound frame, and while there's some effort to his delivery, it's not alarming and doesn't prevent him from finding the strike zone.
"His now stuff isn't going to blow you away," a national crosschecker said. "But it's three pretty good pitches, he throws strikes and he's durable."  http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/kyle-funkhouser-leads-list-of-top-prospects-on-team-usa?ymd=20140814&content_id=89585038&vkey=news_mlb 

7-27-14 - PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba - The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team dropped both ends of a doubleheader against Cuba on Saturday, falling 2-1 in the first game and 7-3 in the second at Capitán San Luis Stadium.
Team USA will look to salvage a win in the series finale against Cuba at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday. Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser is set to toe the rubber in the final game of the summer for the Red, White and Blue.

6-30-14 – Through The Fence – Early College Prospects - 11. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville - A big, durable right-hander at 6’-3” and 225 pounds, Funkhouser’s fastball sits 92-94 mph and can touch 97 mph. His slider is a solid offering and his change-up is still developing but there is still upside due to his size and easy delivery. Command has been an issue for him this year but the deception in his delivery makes it hard for hitters to pick up his stuff as he is holding opponents to a .198 batting average. Over 18 starts. He was 13-3 with a 1.94 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 122 K/65 BB over 120.1 innings. With continued work on his command, he could be rated much higher. http://throughthefencebaseball.com/2015-mlb-draft-early-30-college-prospects/43327

6-13-14 - 
The University of Louisville baseball team takes on Vanderbilt on Saturday in the first game of the College World Series, and the Cardinals will turn to their No. 1 guy on the mound.  

Kyle Funkhouser has been the Cardinals' ace all season long, and there is no surprise he will get the start Saturday night.


There have been command issues, but the 6-3 righty has worked hard to help lead his team to the NCAA regionals.

5-30-14 - Funkhouser raised his seasonal record to 13-2, after tossing 8.0-IP, 4-H, 0-R, 10-K against Kent State in the opening round of the NCAA tourney.


It Was 45 Years Ago Today...Friday September 19th 1969


September 19th

It was back to Shea for a doubleheader to kick off a four game series against Pittsburgh. Nolan Ryan started game one-he didn’t make it of the 2nd inning. Roberto Clemente singled to start the 2nd, then after Al Oliver flied out, Manny Sanguillen singled and Richie Hebner walked. Ryan then walked in a run before striking out Buc starter Bob Veale but his night ended when Matty Alou’s 2-run single put the Pirates up 3-0. They would go on to win 8-2. 

Jim McAndrew started the second game and was hit hard early. Pittsburgh used five singles to score three runs in the 1st on their way to shutting out the Mets, 8-0. Chicago, who split a pair in St. Louis, picked up a game and now trailed New York by 4.

Ernest Dove - Is Wilmer Flores the Mets 2015 Shortstop ?


  The season is about to end for the Mets. Another possible losing season for the Amazin's. David Wright has already been shut down. Vic Black also appears done for the season. Den Dekker and Campbell have good at times. Lagares might be done for the year. Curtis Granderson is probably wishing this season was already over. Murphy was an injury away from 200 hits, Duda might have turned himself into a legit 35 homer cleanup hitter, and Ruben Tejada might have hit himself out of a job.  Amongst all the turmoil, injuries, and Mets fans dressed as empty seats at Citi Field, the one ongoing question mark still hovers over one Wilmer Flores.
  The kid who, if you are a well advised follower of Mets minor leaguers, has been around for what seems like 15 years, is still only 23 years old.  You know, the kid was originally scouted and signed as a short stop (although pretty much all Latin kids are signed originally as shortstops).  You know, the kid who can't field or run, but has somehow managed to play multiple positions, without embarrassing himself.  The kid who warmed the bench, in between some monster doubles and homers, has finally been given a chance to play as a regular on this team.  And, after that series with the Marlins, he is showing exactly why he possibly should have been in the lineup, and on the field, the entire time.
  So now what?  The kid is still 23 years old.  He is still a 'minimum wage' type player going into 2015. And, due to some additional injuries in the organization, he is not even playing short stop every day anymore to end this season. 
  Wilmer has bounced around the field, bounced between 2 levels, and bounced around the lineup, going from 8th to second, to 5th.  Yet, one this is for sure.  With actually consistent playing time, the kid is delivering. And he is delivering with power.  Along with the homers flying out of Citi Field in the recent Marlins series, he also hit shots that would have been homers at other ballparks (or possibly at the 2015 Citi Field park if fences are brought in). So what's stopping the organization from allowing Wilmer his shot in 2015?
  It can't be internal competition.  Ruben Tejada all but played himself out of favor with this organization. He has no power, he can't run, and he no longer hits for average with doubles like he did when he was first given his chance.  Matt Reynolds, no matter the video game numbers put up in the minors, also has no power, and no guarantee that his .300 plus hitting will continue at the major league level. Wilfredo Tovar, seemingly the forgotten one, also projects with zero power, and nobody predicting any batting titles in his future either.  So, basically, so have to reach down to the low minors to project any kind of possible competition, which is basically a group of teenagers with potential, you know, like Wilmer Flores type potential.
  So, everyone now speculates players outside the organization.  First and foremost......... how's that Stephen Drew guy working out this year.......... anyway, there are new names floating around as possible Mets next year.  One of which is JJ Hardy.  Well, I can try arguing stats:  this year, Hardy has a line of .276 BA, with 9 homers and 52 RBIs, at age 32.  So, you're telling me that 23 year old Wilmer Flores can't project out to better numbers then this?  Oh, and did I mention that Hardy may cost 15 million next year, as opposed to the peanuts that Wilmer be earning?  And yes, I did a little research, and I understand that Hardy averaged about 25 homers between 2011 and 2013.......you know what, Curtis Granderson also had back to back 40 homer seasons with the Yankees...... but its Citi Field's fault, not his I guess.
  The other options come from other organizations prospects.  Many were high on the Mets acquiring Nick Franklin from the Mariners.  Well, if you were against Wilmer and his inconsistent under .250 BA and a few homers this year, you probably wouldn't get excited about Franklin hitting about .160 with zero homers in his limited at bats and chance on the big stage this year.
  Theres also the kiddies in the Cubs organization.  Well, Starlin Castro keeps hitting, and apparently keeps getting himself into a little trouble with his attitude.  Oh, he also is making over 10mil a year, and commits enough errors to make Wilmer look like Ozzie out there.  There is also Javier
Baez, who projects to have a lot more power then Wilmer.  Oh, did I mention that he has 77 strikeouts in 170 at bats?  Meanwhile, Wilmer has 26 in 224 at bats.
  The other possible option is 20 year old Addison Russell, who finished out  AA ball season for the Cubs.  Looks great.  Also looks 'expensive' as far as trade value and asking price.  So, unless the Mets are ready to trade deGrom, Wheeler or a package that starts with Syndegaard, I'm guessing the Cubs will trade this excess commodity elsewhere.
  So where does that leave the Mets?  Sure, during the winter time, everyone will look great, and healthy. Most of the Mets Pitchers, even Harvey, will be ready to rock come February.
But, as we all know (ask the Braves), pitchers go down, and all the hitting and talent in the world can not consistently offset a number of injuries to other key positions. Which is why Sandy Alderson continues to publicly be against trading away pitching, especially young pitching (unless he is blown away with an offer of course).  Sooooooo, is it time for the Mets, as an organization, to make a statement, and maybe worry about another position on the diamond (say, LF), and let the 23 year old power bat, with a low K rate, and potential to hit for average, man the position for 550+ at bats in 2015?....................Anyway, what do I know...... If David Wright hits like David Wright next year, Grandy hits like a dude worth 15mil, Harvey pitches somewhere close to like Harvey, and Duda/TDA both continue hitting with power, we may not really care who fields the position at SS anyway, am I right?





There were so many memories in 1969.  Heck I started off my series of articles earlier with 2 miraculous home run games in September by Ron Swoboda that immensely impacted the Mets’ pennant race that year for the better.  Pivotal homers if there ever were some.

But the biggest homer of the 1969 season was hit by Tommie Agee.  Tommie had a lot to overcome when Hall of Famer Bob Gibson decided to greet Tommie in his very first spring training game with the Mets in 1968 by drilling him in the noggin with 100 MPH heat.  I still remember his subsequent 0 for 34 streak that 1968 season as he couldn’t avoid stepping into the bucket repeatedly, and struck out a few dozen times in that painful streak.

He ended that season with a miserable .217 average, 5 homers and 17 RBIs in 368 at bats courtesy of the nasty-dispositioned future Cardinal Hall of Famer.  If he’d killed him with that pitch, I wonder if he’d have gotten in the Hall.  Hmmm…because he sure could have killed him with that.  I lost a ton of respect for Gibson that day.

A side thought – Agee’s beaning-induced 1968 horror results might, without the beaning, have been more like 1969’s fine Agee results, results that landed him high in the MVP voting.  If he had been healthy in 1968, do they break .500 or even win 85 that year, instead of 73?  Possibly.

Anyway, a Daily News article from several years ago said this game wasn’t televised.  Wrong, unless I’m hallucinating.  Mets televised everything back then.  And I saw it.  I watched it in Aunt Mary’s kitchen on her 9 inch fuzzy black and white TV with rabbit ears, in her apartment across from Manny Wolf’s (now Smith and Wolenskys) on 49th and 3rd. 

It was Easter recess and I was hanging out with my cousin Gary.  We had game time company, too – like a lot of old city flats, their apartment had roaches, probably more roaches that fans that day.

Anyhoo, back to this magnificent early season Agee homer.  I’m watching the game, and he hits it into the upper deck off lefty Larry Jaster!  Impossible!  Impossible!  Nah….impossible!

Unfortunately, on that small fuzzy screen, even the replay did not provide a very meaningful view.  A few years later, we were sitting in the cheap seats in the upper deck in the same area and Kingman (then with the Giants) launched a bomb down the line.  I thought it was coming up to us, but it wasn’t.  As hard as Dave hit it, it only made the deck below.  Dave, who had virtually unparalleled power, had years after that as a Met to try to reach that upper deck. Even he never could. 

Upper deck at Shea was ridiculously high – why someone would not have built Shea fully enclosed, seats all around, and much lower, I’ll never know.  I guess the architect liked nosebleeds, or figured fans wanted a close-up look at flights passing overhead from Laguardia. 

But it was not just the height that made it so hard to reach – the upper deck was also set back – each Shea deck had set backs so the lowest seats on each level were not covered.  So to hit a ball that high and that far – was it even possible?  Agee did the impossible that day.  No one else back then did – not the great Mays, not Cepeda, not Aaron, no one.

I often wonder if Agee’s shot would have cleared Yankee Stadium, a never-achieved feat.  My guess is yes, it would have bone out.  Anyone want to weigh in on that?   My guess is it was hit high enough, hit incredibly well enough, and down the line enough.

Let me add that Agee was a guy I loved to mimic, I loved his batters’ box routine and his plate tap with the bat.   Always to be remembered for his wonderful World Series catches, the HR is one I’ll always remember. 

How about you?

Morning Report – September 19 – Brian Burgamy, Kevin Plawecki, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Washington Nationals


A nice story on Binghamton MVP, OF Brian Burgamy

This baseball odyssey of Burgamy's started at age 21 as a fresh-faced infielder out of Wichita State. His love of baseball took the kid from Oklahoma to Eugene, Oregon; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Lake Elsinore, Calif.; Mobile, Ala.; Clearwater, Fla.; Reading, Pa., Clearwater, Fla. (again); Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Newark, N.J; Camden, N.J.; St. Paul, Minn,; Sugar Land, Texas; Campache, Mexico; and Binghamton. He has hit every level of baseball there is except the big leagues. In 2007, Burgamy struggled in the Eastern League with Reading, but ended up getting sent down to Single-A Clearwater where he was part of a championship team in the Florida State League. http://www.pressconnects.com/story/sports/baseball/minors/2014/09/16/mets-title-burgamy-meaning/15735093/

Mack – I know age is a big factor here, but I always found it strange that people like Alan Dykstra and Burgamy, who do nothing  but hit, are never considered a solution for problems the parent team has in Queens. All Burgamy did this year was lead his team in home runs (23), doubles (32),  RBIs (76), walks (71), extra-base hit (56) and runs scored (80). What a slacker!

If the Mets are looking for a one-year solution for left field, why not… oh, never mind. I’m making too much sense again.

Kevin Plawecki - The catcher has impressed many in the organization with both his offense and defense, creating a potential logjam at a position that Travis d’Arnaud already occupies. “If their potential starts to converge at the major league level, and it warrants major league time, then we’ll have to make a decision,” Alderson said, adding that he didn’t see either Plawecki or d’Arnaud in a backup role. “But in the meantime, we’re happy to have both of them. But Kevin has made a lot of progress, and obviously Travis has done well the second half of this season." Added Plawecki: “That’s a business decision. Thank God I don’t have to make it. Travis is a great friend, and he’s a great player. I can go to him if I have any questions.” 

Mack – There are at least six teams looking for a catcher this off-season. There obviously would be a big question whether Plawecki would be ready for a major league assignment that early, so you would expect that d’Arnaud wopuld be the first target other teams would come after. I wouldn’t react to this. D’Arnaud is your current catcher and he is proving more every day that you made the right decision to build a trade around him. Keep dangling Plawecki on the hook and let him build up his stats the first half of the season in Vegas. Eventually, someone will bite.

How will Noah Syndergaard do? His surface stats in AAA this year are ugly: 4.6ERA and 1.48WHIP, but let’s not forget the PCL effect. Below, I outlined his skills (FIP & K/BB) and “luck” (LOB% & BABIP) stats relative to Wheeler’s, deGrom’s and Harvey’s: (see link) - Syndergaard was more commanding than any of them from a K-rate and K/BB perspective, but was clearly affected the most by the environment according to his luck and surface stats. He’s got a Fastball-Curve combo with what should be a better Changeup than Wheeler’s, but he will also pitch to contact at times for some ground-ball induction with a 2-seamer/Sinker. He also has a cutter/slider and if it all comes together, with thought and command, as ballsy as this might sound, he could be the Mets’ closest thing to Corey Kluber. http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/2015-new-york-mets-commanding-attention/

              Mack - This was a very interesting story on Fangraphs, which was complimentary to the future of Mets pitching, in general, and Thor, in particular. God, do I hate the PCL Everybody keeps writing that Syndergaard is suck a great pitcher and all I see is his ERA and WHIP.

I've said this a number of times. My assumption is Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Zack Wheeler are safe. I'd also like to assume that Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Steven Matz are the future of this team, but I can't guarantee that.

My assumption is Sandy Alderson will be patient and wait until his phone rings with someone that wants to talk about any combination of Dillon Gee, Jonathan Niese, or Bartolo Colon.

What happens if no one calls?

Well, someone will. Gee, Niese, and Colon are proven winners and have a value. It may not be the value that Alderson wants, but he will be able to turn the three of these guys into, at least 4-5 prime prospects.

But, if the season starts and the phone still hasn't rang, you return Niese and Gee to the rotation, send Colon and Montero to the pen, and stack up Syndergaard and Matz in Vegas until you get this good problem solved.

You want to come out of this with Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard, and Matz intact.

Jacob deGrom - The 6’4, 25-year-old Jacob deGrom has been turning heads for the Mets this season. Despite making his first start on May 15, deGrom did not record his first big league win until June 21st. He would go 8-2 with a 1.93 ERA the rest of the way. On the season, deGrom has put together a 8-6 record with a 2.68 ERA in 21 starts, for a team that ranks 29th in offensive production. It is tough to say if he can actually win this award, especially considering the captivation that the player below has been able to bring. Regardless, the Mets are certainly looking forward to the bright future this young arm may be able to secure.  http://www.gammonsdaily.com/nl-rookie-of-the-year-outlook/

          Mack - this is the guy that's probably going to generate the most attention in the off-season. He also would probably be able to solve either your shortstop or left field problem in one phone call,

I want to point one thing out here that I haven't done so in the past.

When the Mets drafted deGrom his top velo on his fastball was 94. He went under for Tommy John Surgery and no one was expecting the end result to be that his velo would rise to the 95-97 range.

He shocked the hell out of the entire Savannah staff when he arrived there and he was the first one to be promoted to St. Lucie. 

Does this mean that Matt Harvey could return this spring with a higher velo than he had when he went down with his injury. That's a scary thought.

We continue our hunt for a 2015 SS and LF replacement in the NL East. Next up is the Washington Nationals.

According to Cot[i], the Nationals 2014 salaries are $136,856,579.

There really isn’t a tremendous amount of long term contracts here. 3B Ryan Zimmerman goes through a team option of 2020, RF Jayson Werth is being paid $21.57mil/yr. through 2017, and SP Gio Gonzalez is scheduled to be paid $12.1mil through 2016.

Shortstop wise, the starter is Ian Desmond (.248) and he has one more year ($11mil-2015) on his deal. A recent upgrade via was Asdrubal Cabrera (115-AB, .252); however, his last year under contract is 2014 ($10mil).

Additionally in the outfield, Bryce Harper (292-AB, .271) will enter his first arbitration year being paid $2.25mil, and the oft injured Nate McLouth (139-AB, .173 – shoulder surgery) has $5mil left on his 2015 deal. Denard Span was paid $6.5mil in 2014 (.301) but should be brought back in 2005 at a reasonable $9mil… and Kevin Frandsen (.255) filled in as the 4th outfielder.
Prospect wise, OF Michael Taylor will most probably start 2015 at the AAA level, but Steven Souza is coming off a tremendous AAA season (346-AB, .345/.427/.577/1.044, 18-HR, 77-RBI).
Mack Observation – The most important thing to realize here is that the Nationals would not do anything to help the Mets unless they were desperate to secure someone they thought they had to have, so don’t look for a trade here.
I know it’s been awhile since Cabrera had a decent season (2009: Cleveland, .308), but he did hit 25 home runs in 2011. I would call his agent for the hell of it and see what the ticket is.
Mack's Mets © 2012