Mets Sign Brandon Allen, Others

Amidst the whirlwind of excitement surrounding the possibility of Jaff Decker making a cross-country trip to Flushing (a story which unfortunately ended in Pittsburgh; perhaps he ran out of gas), we completely overlooked the acquisitions the Mets DID make.

By the way, someone needs to tell me just who the heck is Jaff Decker. Is he the brother of Steve Decker? Is he any better than Matt den Dekker? Who names their kid “Jaff,” anyway? A transplanted Bostonian, who attempted to say “Jeff” to the nurse filling in the birth certificate?

From five minutes of netscaping (I think you kids call it “googling”), I found out that Jaff Decker was hailed by Baseball America as having the “Best Strike Zone Discipline” in the ENTIRE San Diego Padres minor league system, prior to the 2013 season. So I suppose that’s why there was so much excitement in the Mets blogosphere about the possibility of his wearing orange and blue — the Mets fans just love young kids who can take walks. And looking at Decker’s 2013 stats, the young man walked 55 times in 415 plate appearances, leading to a shiny .385 OBP. However, he also struck out nearly twice as many times — 95 Ks to be exact. To me that doesn’t sound like someone with good “strike zone discipline.” Rather, it sounds like someone who watches a lot of pitches go by, and very often, watches three strikes pass him by. You may refer to this type of player as a “Duda.”

In any case, the Mets weren’t able wrangle Decker away from the Padres. But let’s not focus on what the Mets have lost, but rather, what they’ve gained.

For example …

The Mets signed Brandon Allen to a minor-league contract. That’s much better than signing him to a Major League contract, considering his MLB career OPS is .665 and he’s a first baseman / outfielder. He hits from the left side, throws with his right hand. He hit 17 HR in the PCL for Tucson last year, which is kind of like hitting 7 or 8 homeruns in the big leagues (or, 4 or 5 if your home park is, say, Citi Field). He turns 28 years old when spring training opens in February. I don’t want to criticize this signing, because Allen seems like a nice enough guy and, heck, it’s just a minor league deal. But, after Jeff Wilpon announced to the world that the Mets had a “glut” of first basemen (and this was cited as the reason they didn’t go after Jose Abreu), this signing of Allen is curious. Don’t you agree?

Additionally, the Mets signed pitcher Miguel Socolovich. I don’t know anything about this guy, other than he’s righthanded, so maybe you can provide your insight. From what I understand, he spent last year in Japan and is currently playing for a winter league team managed by Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens.

The Mets also signed local boy and Seton Hall U. alum Anthony Seratelli, a speedy, switch-hitting outfielder / infielder who is now 30 years old (time flies). Like the aforementioned Decker, he takes a lot of walks, though he doesn’t strike out quite as much. I can envision Seratelli being a good story in spring training — local boy does good, wins utility job.

Finally, the Mets signed outfielder Pedro Cerrano righthanded pitcher Joel Carreno. Carreno was only a fringe prospect as a starter, but did well in his first full year as a reliever in 2013, splitting his time between AA New Hampshire and AAA Buffalo (Buffalo … why does that city seem familiar?). In a combined 50 games in relief, Carreno posted a 0.945 WHIP, 2.43 ERA, and struck out 12.2 batters per nine innings — not too shabby. The walk rate was so-so at 3.2; more concerning was that it jumped up by more than one after jumping to AAA (from 2.6 to 3.7). I would be concerned that it will jump again to over 4 per 9 IP at the big-league level. From what I’ve heard he throws a 88-92 MPH sinker (quite a range) and a slurve. In other words, he sounds like Manny Acosta without the high heat. Hey, with those eye-popping numbers, he’s worth a flyer and will be fine as AAA support. I’m sure he’ll see time in MLB at some point next year.

I know, I know — all this excitement and the turkey isn’t even in the oven yet. More holiday gifts for Mets fans are no doubt on the way.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. mjrjetfan November 26, 2013 at 7:01 am
    Joe – loved the article! I loved the sarcasm!!…I only wished the Wilpons felt as compelled to build a better baseball team (i.e. field a better product) for what they are charging the fans to come watch. I wished I could say that there was a clear rebuilding plan…but I just don’t see it. I mean, how many years does it take to rebuild a team??? Are we so cash poor that we need to shop at bargain outlet places to field a team?
  2. DanB November 26, 2013 at 8:47 am
    Your comments about Decker reminds me how over rated I believe walks and OBP are. If nobody is on base, then yes a walk is as good as a hit. But with runners on base, sometimes a walk is not productive — hell teams sometimes give them away intentionally. I believe this is one reason recent Met teams are so bad with runners in scoring position — instead of moving runners along with a hit or even a ground out, batters are letting hittable pitches go in order to work a walk. This might be one of my three changes I would make, Argon.
    • argonbunnies November 26, 2013 at 10:43 pm
      I think the strategy “don’t swing at pitches you can’t hit” is a no-brainer. If the Mets hitters lack the ability to identify which pitches those are, that isn’t the fault of the organizational philosophy or the coaches. It simply means we have bad hitters.

      I’d rather suffer through some called 3rd strikes than a ton of early outs on pitches out of the zone. The only real shame is that those are currently our only two options.

      Note that Daniel Murphy, the most established hitter on the team after Wright, has completely rejected the team philosophy, and hasn’t been benched or forced to accept it. He can make contact with almost anything, and he likes to swing, so he swings, and makes a lot of weak contact, and nearly led the league in outs.

      I like Murph, but in perusing lineups of really high-scoring teams, I haven’t seen a lot of hitters like him. I’ve seen a lot more guys like Josh Satin — not particularly impressive overall, but a .360+ OBP to keep the line moving for the big boys.

      The thing we forget every time Duda takes a walk, clogs the bases, doesn’t score, and just makes an unproductive inning longer and more boring is this: by not making an out, he gave the Mets one more plate appearance to work with. If the last batter of the game comes up with a big hit? Duda’s walk allowed that guy to bat.

      It’s true that walks only create opportunity for scoring, and you usually need someone to hit the ball in order to actually score. But I think Mets hitters are still trying to hit the ball when they can

  3. NormE November 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm
    Joe, your exuberance (rational or irrational?) is the best thing going in Metsland. The highlight of a bad weather day.

    Why do Mets fans (including myself) have to be so intense
    at this point in the off season? We’re old enough to know that Sandy Alderson ain’t Santa Claus, but we can believe that Fred and li’l jeffy are the heirs of Ebenezer Scrooge.

    Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Hanukkah!