Giving Lucas Duda his Due

The Mets, despite being defending National League Champions, have some issues offensively.

Lucas Duda is not one of those issues.

Since 2013, Lucas Duda has been a great offensive player. His lowest wRC+ since that time 121; he created 21% more runs than a league average hitter with the same plate appearances. His highest was 136. He has been consistently above average since his move to first base. Despite his strikeout rate (23.6% for his career), his walk rate is solid (11.5% career). Also, he has 57 home runs within the last two seasons; he has a lot of pop and it is becoming consistent.

His ISO (Isolated Power, which figures out the raw power of the hitter, details here ) was .228 in 2014, and .242 in 2015, which is considered well above average. His hard hit rate of 41.7%, 41.3% and 39.0% the last three years is way above average. In fact, is it excellent, according to fangraphs .

These numbers hold up against the league averages too.

Since 2013 (when he really started to play first base significantly), he has the 10th best wRC+ among all MLB first basemen with 131. He is 11th in home runs with 72, with 57 of those coming in the last two seasons. He is low in the RBI department, with his 198 ranking 18th, although that is more indicative of how poor the Mets offense has been rather than Duda himself. His .351 OBP is good for 13th,, which is aided by his 7th best walk rate of 12.4%. His .467 SLG is good for 12th. His 6.7 WAR is 15th overall.  His Off value (which is the batting runs + base running runs; read more here) is 53.6, which is both above average and good for 10th. His ISO is .224, which is 8th.

In almost every stat he is within the top 15, and more often than not Duda knocking at the door of the the top 10, among all first basemen in the MLB, not just the National League. Offensively it is going to be difficult to find someone who is as good of a first baseman as Lucas Duda is; there is not many of them, and they are more often than not contracted to a team already.

He is solid defensively, too. He has a career .996 fielding percentage at first base, and has made 13 errors there in 2988.0 innings. That is the third highest fielding percentage of all first baseman who have played at least 2000.0 innings at the position since 2013. His UZR, 0.7, is 18th overall, and his 0.3 UZR/150 is 20th, and both of those suffer due to his arm, not so much his glove. His RZR (revised zone rating, which figures out how many balls hit into his zone are converted into outs) is .807, which is 12th highest (although still below average, though that speaks to the quality of fielding first basemen in the MLB).

The last place the Mets should look to upgrade is first base. They have a well above average, if not (barely) top 10 offensive first baseman in Lucas Duda, and a fielder who makes all of the plays that he gets to. The Mets should be grateful the choice between him and Ike Davis worked out, and focus on building the offense around him.

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Piazza’s Election to the Hall of Fame Long Overdue

He had to wait a few years to receive the call, but Mike Piazza has finally been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 47 year old former catcher received 83 percent of the vote, which was officially announced last Wednesday night. A player needs 75 percent in order to be elected. Ken Griffey Jr. was the only other player elected to the Hall this year, garnering a record-breaking 99.3 percent of the vote. This was Piazza’s fourth year on the ballot. In 2013, he got 57.8 percent of the vote. He inched closer to the necessary percentage in 2014, receiving 62.2 percent of the vote. Last year saw him amassing 69.9 percent of the vote. He finally broke through this year.

There’s no question that Piazza deserves his newly acquired Hall of Fame status. Over the course of his 16-year career, he was a 12-time All-Star who had a career batting average of .308. Piazza put up offensive numbers that were unheard of for a catcher. He hit 427 home runs in his career, 396 of which came as a catcher. No other catcher in MLB history has hit more home runs than him. Piazza also had 1,335 career RBIs.

Piazza was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd round of 1988 MLB Draft, a round that no longer exists today. He was originally a first baseman but was converted to a catcher while in the minor leagues. During his rookie year with the Dodgers in 1993, he batted .318 and hit 35 homers while collecting 112 RBIs. His stellar rookie season earned him the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Piazza went on to have a good career with Dodgers. He finished second in the NL MVP Award voting in 1996 and 1997. The 1997 season was arguably the best year of his career, as he batted .362 and belted 40 home runs while driving in 124 runs.

The Dodgers eventually traded Piazza to the Florida Marlins in May of 1998. The Marlins quickly turned around and traded him to the New York Mets a week later. Piazza quickly adjusted to playing in New York. He helped lead the Mets to the playoffs in 1999, a season in which he again hit 40 home runs and had 124 RBIs. In 2000, the Mets reached the World Series but lost to their crosstown rival, the New York Yankees. Piazza was a major reason why they got to the World Series, as he continued to be the Mets best offensive player.

Although he hit many big home runs as a Met, perhaps the most memorable one came on September 21, 2001. It had been just ten days since the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. The Mets were hosting the Atlanta Braves in what was the first major sporting event held in New York City since the attacks. The Mets were trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning when Piazza came to bat with a runner on base. He hit a long two-run homer to centerfield to give the Mets the late lead. Even though it was just a regular season game, the gravity of the circumstances surrounding New York City and everyone in it at the time made that home run mean so much more. It’s still considered by many to be one of the biggest home runs in New York baseball history.

Piazza played his last season with the Mets in 2005. He signed a one-year contract with the San Diego Padres in January of 2006. After playing in San Diego for a year, he signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Athletics. He became a designated hitter while with the A”s. Piazza officially announced his retirement following the 2007 season.

No one was surprised when it was announced last Wednesday night that Piazza had finally gotten into the Hall of Fame. The only thing that surprised people was that he didn’t get in the previous three years. What likely kept him out was suspicion about Piazza possibly using PEDs, even though the power-hitting catcher had never been found to have used illegal drugs. He was never linked to PEDs in any of the reports. However, it was the era that he played in that probably made the voters skeptical. So many people around him were using PEDs. That being said, it still wasn’t really fair for these voters to hold the era that Piazza played in against him, especially considering there’s absolutely zero proof that he ever took steroids.

Mike Piazza is arguably the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history. He definitely deserves to be a Hall of Famer. He’s said that he wants to go in wearing a Mets cap. In all likelihood, the Hall will honor that request. The only other Met in the Hall of Fame is Tom Seaver.

Congratulations, Mike. You’ve undoubtably earned this honor.

 

 

Meet the New Met: Alejandro De Aza

The Mets, after reports of being out on Yoenis Cespedes , and Denard Span , seem to be perfectly content with a center field platoon of Juan Lagares and the newly signed Alejandro De Aza.

This, by all accounts, is a corner cutting move and is not the smartest decision.

De Aza has always been an okay hitter, outside of a pretty porous rookie campaign in 2007 in which he posted a .229 average, with a 44 wRC+, a .251 wOBA and a -0.2 WAR in 45 games. That is absolutely brutal, on every account. However, he returned to the majors in 2009 and has been steady; in the four years he has played 100+ games in (2012-2015) he has hit in between .252 and .281, with a 96-106 wRC+, .310-.333 wOBA. He is a very average hitter. Relatively consistent, but average.. He has a career high of 17 home runs, and has a career high of 26 stolen bases, so he can run a bit, and run into some home runs. He walks at an abysmal rate (7.7% for his career) and strikes out a lot (22.8%), which does not bode well for someone who does not hit for a bunch of power.

His career UBR (Ultimate Base Running, basically how good of a baserunner the player is, in terms of advancing on throws, going first to third, etc. Read more here ) is 6.3; anything above 6.0 is considered excellent  by Fangraphs, which is a big positive, especially in a Mets offense that has had its fair share of base running woes.

The Mets plan to play him exclusively against right handed pitching, which fits well for him. He has a career .274 average against righties as an opposed to .239 against lefties. 40 of his 45 home runs have come against right handers. His 106 wRC+ against righties dwarfs his 79 wRC+ against lefties. He also has nearly a 100 point higher OPS against righties (.756) than against lefties (.657). He is much better against right handed pitching, and it is not even close. Offensively, he should do a solid job, although it is very underwhelming for a team with such cheap starting pitching that just went to the World Series.

The real issue with this signing, and how he will be used, is his defense.

In his 2629.1 innings in CF, (a position he has not played regularly since 2013, including only 8 total innings there last season), he as -6 rARM (outfield arm runs saved above average), a -7 rGFP (good fielding plays runs above average), a -5 rPM (plus/minus saved runs above average) and a -18 DRS (defensive runs saved). He has a .986 fielding percentage in CF with a -3.9 TZL (total zone with location data). He is well below average in center field, and the Mets are counting on him to man the position most days out of the week, since the majority of major league pitchers are right handed, and he is the left handed side of the platoon.

Alejandro De Aza is not a bad player. He can contribute to a major league roster. However, for a team as primed for success as the Mets are, playing De Aza out of position on an everyday basis is disappointing, to say the least.

Note: All statistics are from fangraphs.com

Mets Appear to be Moving on From Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes was such a vital part of the New York Mets in 2015. However, it seems as though the team is ready to move on from the Cuban-born slugger.

After being traded to the Mets from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline, Cespedes became their offensive catalyst. In 57 games with the Mets, he batted .287 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs. He provided the team with the big bat that they were lacking for the first four months of the season. Because the Mets finally had a good offense, they were able to overtake the Washington Nationals and win the NL East for the first time since 2006. Cespedes did not really have a great postseason however, and the Mets went on to lose to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.

Even though he didn’t do so well in the playoffs, Cespedes was still by far the Mets’ best offensive player in 2015. He fit right in with the team and seemed very comfortable playing in New York. He gave the Mets a legitimate power bat, something they hadn’t had in years. They would not have made the playoffs without him. Despite all this, it appears as though the team is not interested in bringing him back.

At the beginning of the offseason, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not the Mets would offer Cespedes a long-term contract. Many people around baseball doubted that they would be willing to offer him the type of lucrative, long-term deal that he’d want. Judging by the team’s most recent signing, it looks like these people are right. On Tuesday, the Mets agreed on a one-year, $5.75 million contract with outfielder Alejandro De Aza. The left-handed hitting De Aza will mostly likely platoon center field with righty Juan Lagares. That is, unless the Mets sign another outfielder in the next few months.

The signing of De Aza basically confirms that Cespedes will not be a New York Met going forward. It is very unlikely at this point that they even offer him a contract. The team was reportedly willing to offer him a three-year contract, but Cespedes is looking for a five or six-year deal. Talks between Cespedes and the Mets basically hit a dead end yesterday because of this. General manager Sandy Alders0n has decided to spend money elsewhere. In addition to De Aza, the Mets have also signed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. They traded pitcher Jon Niese to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for second baseman Neil Walker. The team got a surprise two weeks ago when outfielder Michael Cuddyer announced his early retirement. Cuddyer was set to make $12.5 million next year. Now the Mets are free to spend this money elsewhere. However, it doesn’t appear as though they’ll be spending it on Cespedes.

It would be surprising if the Mets didn’t make any other moves this offseason. They still need to try and sign at least one more relief pitcher to solidify their bullpen, particularly a solid setup man. Adding another outfielder would also be very beneficial. Justin Upton is still available, someone who would definitely cost less than Cespedes. What they’ve done so far has been fine, but in order to get back to the World Series they’ll need to do more. Alderson knows that his team already has one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Now, he needs to focus on upgrading other areas of his team. Considering that the Mets won’t be resigning Cespedes, he undoubtedly has the money to make these improvements.

Meet the New Mets: 2015 Winter Meetings Edition

When the Mets lost out on Ben Zobrist this past week, there was a new era of Panic City in Metsville. Fans figured that the offseason was lost, and nothing will be done to a roster that has some holes in it, with the loss of Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes, as well as bench players Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. However, some of that depth was solved, with two acquisitions.

The first acquisition was trading LHP Jon Niese for Neil Walker. This was a smart trade on both sides; Niese’s groundball mentality fits in well in Pittsburgh, and Neil Walker fills the Daniel Murphy-esque hole in the middle of the infield. Not only does he do that, but he is a very good player in his own right.

Neil Walker is one of the premier hitters at second base. He has an above average 114 career wRC+, with a downright gaudy 131 wRC+ in his Silver Slugger winning 2014 campaign, which was good for 3rd among all major league second basemen. His 108 mark last year was good for 9th last year. His career wRC+ is 6th since he entered the league. His .336 wOBA is 8th best.

His 23 home runs in 2014 was second in the MLB among second basemen, and his 16 (tied with Wilmer Flores) in 2015 was good for 4th. His 93 career home runs is the 11th most among active second baseman, and he has done it in 836 games. Walker is a premier power hitter for his position.

In the last three seasons, his OPS+ is 3rd amongst all second basemen at 115 (100 is the average); Ben Zobrist is just one point above him for second.

Neil Walker and Zobrist are different players, but they actually give similar production. While Walker does not walk at the same rate Zobrist does (8.1% for Walker, 12% for Zobrist), they strike out similarly (17.3% for Walker, 15.1% for Zobrist), and Walker’s .272 batting average is actually higher than Zobrist’s .265. Their slugging percentages are an identical .431. One place where they differ is defensively, Walker is okay at best (.989 fielding percentage, -10 defensive runs saved), where Zobrist can field in basically every position he plays, and has 26 defensive runs saved at second base in his career, where he would have spent the majority of his time with the Mets.

Walker has some intense splits; he dominates right handed pitching (.279 average, 119 wRC+ in 2015) but struggles against lefties (.239 average, 58 wRC+ in 2015), and that is a career long trend (.276, 123 wRC+ against righties, .260, 83 wRC+ against lefties), but Wilmer Flores is the opposite so a platoon would not be a surprise. Dilson Hererra can also fill this role, although I doubt the Mets will want to have a 21 year old sit on the bench in a platoon role.

They are getting a very similar player to Zobrist in Walker, and it also allows for the Mets to offer him a qualifying offer next year, which allows the Mets to possibly get another first round pick (if he signs elsewhere), giving them four first round picks in two years, which would help a thinning prospect group. Also, highly touted prospect Dilson Hererra will be more than ready to take over the handle as the long-term second baseman by then.

The second acquisition of the Winter Meetings for the Mets was Asdrubal Cabrera. A name the Mets have been linked to for a year , he fills a middle infield role for the Mets, and most likely will be assuming the role of starting at shortstop, after signing a two year deal with an option for a third. He makes their middle infield possess some of the best available hitters for the positions, especially partnered with Walker.

Asdrubal Cabrera has been a top 10 offensive shortstop since 2013; his 92 wRC+ was 8th in 2013, 96 was 10th in 2014, and 104 was 4th in 2015. His career wRC+ of 103 is 8th since his rookie season in 2007, and his 102 home runs is 10th. His 509 RBIs is 8th.  His .325 wOBA is 10th. He has an above average 104 OPS+ as well. He is a top ten offensive shortstop since entering the league.

He does not walk a lot (7.5%) and strikes out a decent amount (17.4%), but he has a rare ability to hit around 15 home runs from the shortstop position (with a career high of 25). He is a durable player as well, as evidenced by playing in at least 136 games every season since 2011. While both Walker and Cabrera are switch hitters (which has been a rarity in Mets lineups), they have reverse splits; Cabrera hits left handers better than right handers (.281 average, 105 wRC+ as a right handed batter, .260, 103 wRC+ as a left handed batter), although the wRC+ suggest that his production is similar (he has much more power from the left side of the plate, as 78 of his home runs come from that side, he just hits for less average).

Cabrera also can play multiple positions. At shortstop, where he is most likely starting, he has a pretty bad .974 fielding percentage, with -29 defensive runs saved, a -10.6 UZR/150 and a -55.5 UZR. He is actually a pretty good second baseman, albeit with a very small sample size, with a .994 fielding percentage, 2 defensive runs saved, -2.5 UZR/150 and a -3.6 UZR. He has very limited time at third base, but he can play there in a pinch. He is not excellent anywhere on the field, but his offensive prowess makes up for it.

Not only does this make the offense stronger and deeper, it allows the bench to get stronger as well. Wilmer Flores, with his ability to play second, short, and third, as well as his ability to hit for some power, becomes somewhat of a super-sub (or trade bait, if they find the right deal). Ruben Tejada can become a defensive replacement in late inning games. Overall, while defensively the Mets did not improve all that much, the lineup is much, much deeper than the lineup that opened up last season. And while they should not close up shop for this offseason (they still need a center fielder and some bullpen help), this is an excellent start.

Mets Must Say Farewell to Daniel Murphy

After a historic postseason, it is doubtful that longtime Met Daniel Murphy will be returning to Queens this offseason.

That is for the best.

Daniel Murphy will always have a place in Mets fans hearts; he has the 8th highest batting average in team history, coming in at .288, over his 9 year stint in a Mets uniform. His 228 doubles is 2nd behind David Wright, and his 402 RBIs is 12th. He has been in the middle of some bad Mets teams, and bounced all around the field in order to find a place for him to play. He learned new positions, and he did it without complaint.

Regardless of this, he is not worth the projected price of 4 years-$60m ; and it is not even close.

His good batting average aside, he has a career high 14 home runs, which he hit this past year. The power surge of the NLCS and NLDS was a fluke, and nothing more. He also walks at an abysmal 6% for his career, which is unacceptable and is not how the Mets want to build their offense. His career wRC+ is 109, which is only nine points above the average wRC+; his one dimensional offensive output is the cause of this, and makes him a much worse offensive ballplayer. He’s good at hitting doubles, and that is about it.

However, where his value really drops in the field (since that 109 wRC+ is above the average 100, albeit barely above). At second base, his listed position, he has a career -20.2 UZR (ultimate zone rating, it takes what happened on the field, and data from other players of the same position to determine how much better the fielder is as opposed to an average player; average is 0) over 4343.0 innings; that is 5 points worse than -15, which fangraphs.com describes as “awful” . His UZR/150 (UZR over 150 games) is -6.3. His natural position, third base, he is a 0.0 in both UZR and UZR/150 over 713.2 innings; he is completely average (needless to say, David Wright is blocking him there). In 464.2 innings in the outfield, he has a -3.6 UZR and -0.7 UZR/150 for his career.

His only positive UZR rating, first base, comes with a 7 UZR and a 5.8 UZR/150. He did have two awful seasons at first (60+ innings in 2012, where he had a -0.7 UZR and a -22.9 UZR/150, and 2013, where he had a -1.2 UZR and a -18.3 UZR/150). Lucas Duda, the current Mets first baseman, has a career 0.6 UZR, and 0.3 UZR/150 in 1300 more innings than Murphy has at first; and the majority of Murphy’s positive UZR ratings at first come during 2009, where he had a very good 5.9 UZR and 8.8 UZR/150; he’s regressed badly at the position since that season.

For his career, he makes 97% of routine plays (90-100% expectancy), and only 68.6% likely (60-90%) plays; that is far too low, and frankly is not good enough a major league second baseman.

The Mets lost the World Series for a few reasons; two of which are a shaky bullpen, and poor fielding. For Daniel Murphy, his lack of defensive prowess and his one dimensional offensive output should write him a ticket out of Queens, and, if the National League teams were smart, right into the American League as a DH.

Where Will Daniel Murphy End Up In 2016?

He had a historic postseason for the New York Mets this past October. Now Daniel Murphy is ready to the test the market.

The 30-year old second baseman is now officially a free-agent. The one-time All-Star is coming off a postseason in which he batted .328 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs. Murphy also set a new MLB Postseason record by homering in six straight games. He was named the 2015 NLCS MVP for his performance against the Chicago Cubs. He definitely boosted his value in the past month. It’s unclear right now where Murphy will be playing in 2016. There are some teams that have expressed interest in him already. Realistically, there are a handful of teams that would really be a good fit for him.

Murphy’s already shown he can fit in on the Mets. Last Friday, the team gave him a one-year, $15.8 qualifying offer. He has until 5 p.m. ET today to choose to accept the offer or not. Murphy’s played with the Mets his entire career. He’s been one of their most consistent hitters over the past five years. Bringing him back make sense. The only problem with Murphy returning to the Mets is where he would play. His best position is third base, but the Mets now have David Wright back after missing the majority of last season. Murphy played second base for the entire postseason, but made a few key errors in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. He can also play first base. However, Lucas Duda occupies that position for the Mets. If Murphy does accept the Mets’ offer, he would probably play second base. They would just have to sacrifice average defense for good offense.

If Murphy rejects the Mets’ qualifying offer, another team that would make sense for him is the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels have shown in the past that they have no problem paying a lot of money for free-agents. Because he’s not the best defensive player, signing with an American League team could benefit Murphy. That way, he could serve as the designated hitter. If the Angels needed him to, he could play somewhere in the infield. Especially with slugging first baseman Albert Pujols in danger of missing the start of the 2016 season after undergoing foot surgery this week, the Angels could use a player like Murphy. He could start the season as the team’s first baseman if Pujols misses any time. The Angels lineup already includes 2014 AL MVP Mike Trout as well as Pujols. Adding Murphy would help give them one of the best lineups in all of baseball.

The Colorado Rockies have reportedly expressed interest in signing Murphy. As reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports this past Saturday, the Rockies have discussed internally the possibility of trying to sign him. However, they’d want him to play first base. Veteran Justin Morneau played first base for Colorado last year, but the team declined his $9 million option for 2016. Murphy has 171 career starts at first base. The only position he has more starts at is second base. In his career, he’s committed 86 errors. Only 17 of those errors have come while playing first base. Murphy actually makes sense for the Rockies. He’d be playing a position that he wouldn’t make as many errors at. Also, he’d probably hit at least 20 home runs a year at hitter-friendly Coors Field. A career .288 hitter, Murphy would thrive in this park.

It’ll be interesting to see who Daniel Murphy ends up signing. His main value is as a good offense player who is thought of as a utility player. However, his mediocre defense will limit what position a team can realistically play him at. Whether he accepts the Mets’ qualifying offer or decides to go someplace else, he’ll definitely be making more money than he’s ever made in his career. After a tremendous postseason, Murphy’s ready to cash in. We’ll see which team pays up.

 

 

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Why The New York Mets Do Not Need To Make An Offensive Offseason Splash

The last article I wrote made a case for Yoenis Cespedes staying with the New York Mets , and getting a contract extension. For this article, I am taking a different route; the Mets do not necessarily need to make a big splash for an offensive free agency this offseason to be competitive, or even to improve, going into next year.

It is no secret that the Mets would not be in the playoffs without Yoenis Cespedes’ bat down the stretch, nor would they have won the National League Pennant Daniel Murphy’s torrid (totally unsustainable) pace at the plate in the NLCS and NLDS. Be that as it may, it may be prudent for the Mets to use that money that would be allocated to Cespedes and Murphy into building the team in other ways.

With adding in arbitration raises, the Mets are expected to have around a $93m payroll before acquiring anyone; I can see them adding around and extra $25m to that. While signing Cespedes is (probably) doable, that leaves very little room to improve elsewhere; mostly because he is projected to make around $150m over 6 or 7 years, and Murphy would probably reel in $60m over 4 years , which is much too much for a one-dimensional player (who is even more one-dimensional with his career long lack of power).

The biggest problem with that Cespedes contract for the Mets is the length; starting in 2018, the Mets pitching staff will start becoming arbitration eligible, and soon after that become free agents. In order to even have a chance in signing more than one of Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz and Wheeler, there needs to be a plethora of cap room; giving an outfielder trending to the middle of his thirties is not prudent in that case.

While Murphy almost never strikes out, neither player fits the organizational mold of a high on base percentage; both are get a hit or get out players.

Met fans, do not expect a contract longer than three, or four, years given out by GM Sandy Alderson.

The Mets have obvious holes with Cespedes and Murphy leaving, at center field and at second base. At center field, the Mets seem to be interested in Span, Fowler, or Parra . For the middle infield, there has not been many rumors but I can safely speculate on one name.

Although Met fans want to believe this, shortstop is not the issue. Wilmer Flores was 8th among all Major League shortstops in WAR, and 7th in wRC+; he is a big league shortstop, and can handle that position. He improved drastically defensively, and his bat is solid for a shortstop. It is not an issue. The middle infield issue is purely a second base one.

For second base, there is one name the Mets love; Ben Zobrist. They nearly acquired him at the trade deadline this season, and he would have been well worth it. He spent the first half of 2015 with the Athletics, and was traded to the eventual World Series Champion Royals at the deadline. He hit .276 with 13 home runs and 76 RBIs, and had a 123 wRC+ and a 2.1 WAR. He can play a multitude of positions, and he can play them all well. He can easily slot into second base, and move around the diamond as the Mets need him. He also sports a high OBP (.359) and OPS (.809) which is something the Mets covet. He is an absolute perfect fit, but he has to want to leave Kansas City (he did just give his new daughter the middle name of Royal ), and the Mets want to have to pay him; also, he will be turning 35 and father time can hit someone hard and unexpectedly.

The Mets may look internally at second base, which would not be the worst option. The Mets, as a front office, are extraordinarily high on Dilson Herrera. The 21 year old has struggled in limited plate appearances in the MLB (a .215 batting average in 49 games), he has absolutely destroyed the minor leagues since being acquired by the Mets from Pittsburgh. Since 2013, he has never hit lower than .307 (2014 A+ ball), and has topped out with 11 home runs (2015 AAA ball) and 50 RBIs (2015 AAA ball). The Mets love him; he can hit at the top of the order, and has a decent amount of power for a top of the order hitter. He is a better fielder than Murphy (everyone is), and can hit at a solid rate. He also walks a lot more, as evidenced by a career low .355 OBP in 2014. He has all the tools to be a good player, he just needs the time, and I would not be surprised if the Mets gave it to him.

In center field, the Mets will probably go a different route than the high power, low average, Yoenis Cespedes. They want a lefty hitting center fielder who will platoon with Juan Lagares (who is dreadful against right handed pitching). Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, and Gerardo Parra are the three on that list. Fowler is the least likely, since the switch hitter only hit .228 against lefties this year, and .326 against lefties; that split is the opposite of what the Mets want. However, he is still very good, and the poor lefty split may be an outlier. Another issue is that he was offered a qualifying offer, and I doubt the Mets will sacrifice a first round pick in consecutive seasons.

The Mets love Parra much as they did Zobrist (they almost acquired him at the deadline), but there are issues with him. He struggled at the end of last year, after being traded to the Orioles, and he has not played much center field since 2012, and the corner outfield positions are locked down by Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson. He was ineligible for a qualifying offer, since he was traded midseason.

The other option, Denard Span, seems to be the most attractive. He has a career line of .287, with 37 home runs and 567 runs scored, with a 23.9 WAR. He has stolen 152 career bases, and he is a solid fielding left handed center fielder. It seems perfect, but there is a drawback; last year’s injuries. He only played 61 games, with various injuries to his back, and his hip. That is a scary year for a contact and speed player, but he has been healthy for the majority of his career; these injuries may be an unfortunate outlier, and I think it would be prudent for the Mets to take a risk, because if he is healthy that is a huge addition to the team. He also did not receive a qualifying offer.

Also, adding a leadoff hitter allows Curtis Granderson to move to the middle of the lineup, where he, a full year of Michael Conforto, a healthy Travis d’arnaud and David Wright make for a middle of the lineup that will replace Murphy’s and Cespedes’ production.

A lineup of:

Fowler/Span/Parra

Wright

Confroto

Granderson

d’arnaud,

Duda

Herrera

Flores/Tejada

Pitcher’s Spot

Is incredibly solid, and that does not even include signing Zobrist (who I would put in the two hole and Wright gets moved to around the 6 spot). That lineup can compete, and Cespedes and Murphy will be replaced by players who are already on the roster.

Note: All statistics are taken from fangraphs.com

Mets Reward Collins With Two-Year Contract Extension

The oldest manager in Major League Baseball now has a new contract.

Terry Collins, 66, signed a two-year contract extension this week to remain the manager of the New York Mets through the 2017 season. The contract is worth about $3 million. The official announcement of the deal was made on Wednesday. This new contract replaces Collins’ previous one, which had a team option for 2016. Collins just finished his fifth season as the Mets manager, a season that ended with his team losing in the World Series to the Kansas City Royals.

Before this season, Collins had never managed in the postseason. He managed the Houston Astros from 1994-1996 and the Los Angeles Angels from 1997-1999, but never made the playoffs with either team. He was hired by the Mets back in 2011. The team posted a losing record in each of his first four seasons in New York.

Going into 2015, there was a lot of pressure on Collins. It was widely believed that if he failed to manage the Mets to the playoffs, the team would not exercise his team option for 2016. However, the Mets won 90 games and the NL East in 2015. Collins did an adequate job, especially considering the offensive talent he had to work with for the majority of the season. He was able to keep the Mets afloat until the trade deadline. That’s when the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes, among other players. After that, the team took off.

Given a good team, Collins proved that he could be a successful manager. The Mets won 20 games in August and 16 games in September. He did a good job managing his bullpen, and finally had a good lineup to work with. Under his leadership, the team clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2006. They beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games in the NLDS and then swept the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.

Collins and the Mets just fell short of winning the World Series, as they were defeated by the Royals in five games. He was questioned by some for letting Matt Harvey come back out and start the ninth inning of Game 5 with the Mets leading 2-0. Harvey allowed a walk and an RBI double before Collins finally pulled him. Mets closer Jeurys Familia came in and allowed the tying run to score, and the Royals went on to win the game in extra innings. Leaving Harvey in was obviously a tough decision that any manager would have struggled with. It’s hard to blame Collins for doing it.

When his two-year contract is up, Terry Collins will most likely retire. He will become the longest-tenured manager in Mets history if he completes these next two seasons. He already has the third-most wins as a manager in franchise history with 394. Only Bobby Valentine and Davey Johnson have more. Collins has two years left to win a World Series and leave a legacy. With all the talent the Mets have, he certainly has a good chance.

 

World Champion Kansas City Royals…and a dark night in Gotham.

World Series – Game 5 – New York

“NO WAY” mouthed the Dark Knight of Gotham after taking a 2-0 lead to the dugout following eight scoreless innings highlighted by nine strikeouts and a pitch count at 102. NO WAY, Matt Harvey was going to let the messenger, pitching coach Dan Warthen, or manager Terry Collins remove him from the biggest game of his life and the Mets’ season.

Collins saw the confidence in Harvey and rolled the dice. NO WAY I can second guess a decision that allowed for a classic 9th inning to unfold. We were getting to enjoy a stellar starting pitching performance that was exceeding what Johnny Cueto did for the Royals in Game 2 when he went the distance in a 7-1 Kansas City win. This was good stuff no matter how you slice the Big Apple.

If there was no way we needed to see Jon Niese, Addison Reed or Bartolo Colon help Harvey get through the 8th then there was certainly no way we needed to see stopper turned pumpkin Jeurys Familia help the Mets superhero finish off the Royals in the 9th to force a game six.

However, there was also NO WAY the Kansas City Royals were going to be denied a World Championship in 2015. Here are the final brush strokes to a colorful season of celebrating in Kansas City.

  • Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain to lead off the 9th.
  • Harvey was then allowed to work from the stretch, but didn’t work in a pick off throw so of course Lorenzo Cain easily stole 2nd base.
  • Eric Hosmer doubled home Cain to make it 2-1. Harvey was finally removed from the game and in entered Jeurys Familia.
  • Mike Moustakas advanced Hosmer to 3rd on a ground out to first.
  • It was Salvador Perez’s groundball to David Wright that doomed the Mets. The drawn in Wright sort of looked Hosmer back to 3rd base before throwing out Perez at first. Only problem, Hosmer decided to break for home to give the routine play some color. Lucas Duda butchered the throw home and just like that a sliding Hosmer had tied the game at two.

The game headed to extra innings after the Mets failed to score in the bottom of the 9th.

  • Leading off the 12th inning of a 2-2 game, World Series MVP Salvador Perez singled against Addison Reed.
  • Jarrod Dyson pinch ran for Perez and Travis d’Arnaud once again had no shot at throwing out a runner as Dyson stole second.
  • Alex Gordon advanced Dyson to 3rd on a ground out to first.
  • Because everybody should be allowed to play, the Royals sent Christian Colon to the plate as a pinch hitter. Colon’s line drive single to left scored Dyson to give Kansas a 3-2 lead. It was Colon’s first postseason at bat and hit, but the Royals were just getting started.
  • Playoff MVP, if the playoffs ended after the NLCS, David Murphy misplayed a Paulo Orlando ground ball and for the second night in a row Murphy immediately applied the lip balm as if that provided some kind of quick fix or diversion. The Mets defense was charged with six errors in the series, but had other tough defensive breaks.
  • Time to cash in. Alcides Escobar doubled home Colon to make it 4-2.
  • Following Reed’s intentional walk of Ben Zobrist to load the bases, Bartolo Colon was summoned.
  • Lorenzo Cain sealed the deal with a 3-run double to make it 7-2.
  • In the bottom of the 12th, Drew Butera got some playing time for the Royals and caught the final pitch from Wade Davis when Wilmer Flores was caught looking to clinch the World Championship for Kansas City.

It’s Kansas City’s first World Championship since 1985 (2nd overall). It comes one year after they were 90-feet away from tying game seven of the World Series against Madison Bumgarner. That 2014 heartbreak against the Giants is a feeling the Royals carried with them this season. Maybe it was visible as a chip they appeared to have on their shoulder when a game or two or three or theirs got feisty, but Sunday night all you could see was joy and the celebratory goggles (I believe Jeremy Guthrie had a snorkel) that accompanied the World Series trophy.

Looking back we see the Royals built a large lead in the AL Central early and finished tops in the AL with 95 wins. I tend to think 2014 was a smoke and mirrors act for the Royals until they reached the postseason. Not the case in 2015 as statistically and visually many of the Royals looked like improving players.  This year’s playoff run featured a 5-game challenge in the ALDS against the up and coming Astros followed by a 6-game triumph against the also upstart Toronto Blue Jays.

Kansas City won the first two games of their Fall Classic against the Mets 5-4 and 7-1. The Game 1 win featured tying the game in the 9th, before winning in the 14th. The Mets appeared to climb back in the series after Friday’s 9-3 Game 3 win.

Not so fast. The Royals 5-3 comeback win in Game 4 Saturday after being down 3-2 in the 8th set the stage for another comeback on Sunday. It’s what they do.

This postseason the Royals outscored the opposition 51-11 in the 7th inning or later. It’s a stat that clearly tells the tale of a Royals’ team that never stops applying pressure and more times than not can push the hammer down so the bullpen can turn out the lights. The Mets were the finest the National League had to offer, but because of the Royals it was a dark night in Gotham and a celebration to befit a king in Kansas City.

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