A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Communications Coordinator. He is married, lives in Bethlehem PA and has a 10-year-old son who unfortunately roots for the Phillies.
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Motte the Met and Other Musings

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  The arrival of the holiday season also means that right on time, the hot stove is blazing away. The Mets offseason acquisitions are once again likely to be of the smaller type, as GM Sandy Alderson and his brain trust appear fully confident that last year’s 79-win team only needs some minor tweaking to blossom into a contender.

Since it is Thanksgiving, we’ll use a restaurant analogy: unlike the Boston Red Sox, we won’t be dining at Daniel this offseason. Instead,  we’ll  get to pick from one of the many options at the Bergen Mall food court.

Recent Metsblog speculation has the Mets interested in former Cardinal closer Jason Motte. This is one of Matthew’s more intriguing rumors.  After a brilliant 2012 season, including a league-leading 42 saves, Motte missed all of 2013 following TJS. His 2014 was a lost season and observers noted that his 2014 velocity was down at least 3 MPH over 2012 (a cautionary tale for Matt Harvey). However even at partial strength, he held lefty batters to a .211 BA, even lower than his career norm. Yes, I know, small sample size.

If and it’s a big if, Motte can return to the pre-surgery form, he gives the Mets a formidable late inning arm. He also has a cool beard and has done some good charity work. Any hey, he used to be a catcher, which counts for something, at least on this blog! Alderson can probably get him for cheap. He should try.

Besides Motte, here are some other names associated with our team lately:

  • Craig Breslow: On the surface, he is a better choice than Motte, as he is the epitome of the LOOGY they need. He’s a New York guy, but then so was Nelson Figueroa. He really fell off a cliff last year and will turn 35 during the season.  Just my own gut feeling, but I think Breslow is done and I would rather take a chance on Motte, who if nothing else, has a much bigger upside.
  • Jonny Gomes: For openers, he is an ex-Padre and ex-Athletic, which is the type of player that Alderson likes to acquire. He was one of the heroes of Boston’s 2013 World Championship team and does bring many intangibles with his game. Caution: his 2014 performance dipped as the year wore on and he has put up a below average slash line for two consecutive years. He might be a fun guy to have around, but either Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker are likely to outhit him (albeit from the other side of the plate) at this stage of his career.
  • Ryan Ludwick: Another ex-Padre, he OPS’d .683 for the Reds last year. Hard to believe he is 36 already. He is at the top of this class of outfielders, which is somewhat akin to being the top of the Delta pledge class in Animal House.
  • Delino DeShields Jr.: Here is an excellent article on some of the players available in this year’s Rule V draft. Before parenthood and career responsibilities occupied more real estate in my brain, I spent a lot of time delving into that draft, so I appreciate that someone has picked up the banner. Experience reminds us that for every Johan Santana  left unprotected, there’s also a Brad Emaus, a Pedro Beato, a Doug Simons or a Mike Draper out there just waiting to clog up a roster spot.
  • Daniel Murphy to the Giants? I have also read and heard speculation that the San Francisco Giants’ loss of Kung Fu Panda to the Red Sox has them eyeing Murphy to play third base. In reality, I would think that Murphy is somewhat way down on the Giants list of options; plus any deal is likely predicated on the Mets first acquiring a shortstop and sliding Wilmer Flores over to second. Hard to decide which of these  scenarios is the more unlikely.

At the end of the offseason, we will probably have to be satisfied with the additions of Ludwick/Gomes/Breslow or Motte, along with Michael Cuddyer and a healthy  Harvey. Would that work for you? Or do you have a Murphy to the Giants trade proposal? How about a realistic one for a shortstop? Let’s hear it.

 

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The Cuddyer Signing: Like It or Loathe It?

michael-cuddyer-rox2

 

I am somewhere in the middle on this one. ICYMI, the Mets signed Colorado outfielder Michael Cuddyer yesterday. Didn’t see that coming.

Interesting tidbit: then-prospect Cuddyer was one of the Twins rumored to be coming back to the Mets in the ill-fated Rick Reed for Matt Lawton trade in 2001.

What I like about this signing is that on paper at least, Cuddyer becomes the Mets jack of all trades, filling in at left, right, first and third base. The team’s bench was thinner than the meat sliced at my local deli (sorry, love) for most of last year, so this gives Terry Collins additional options. It allows Collins to pick spots for Lucas Duda and the current or future outfield prospects. By all accounts, Cuddyer is a solid citizen. He is besties with David Wright and we all know about David’s reputation. Most importantly, the Mets added a bat without sacrificing any pitching prospects.

On the downside, Cuddyer is quite long in the tooth and is coming off an injury plagued 2014 campaign. If the team’s budget is indeed that tight, they probably have squandered resources better applied elsewhere. It is interesting how back loaded his two-year deal is. I guess this means that they won’t be resigning Daniel Murphy or Bartolo Colon past 2015. He also cost them their #1 2015 draft pick, but IMO, the bellyaching about that is somewhat unfair, considering the shape of the Mets farm system and the time it takes to develop prospects. Remind me again, what round was Jacob deGrom drafted in?

This signing probably means either Eric Young Jr.’s or Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ days at a Met are numbered.

Met fans in the post-2006 era have been conditioned to expect the worst. For us the worst could run to either extreme, (a) being that the Cuddyer signing represents the centerpiece of their offseason remake and that he is penciled in for 600 at bats. Or (b) the early signing signals that the team is about to embark on a “damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead” philosophy and the next move is a multiple pitching prospect deal for all of Troy Tulowitzki’ s salary.

So how about you? Like this signing or hate it? Let’s hear it.

And Happy Veterans Day to all who served or who are serving.

 

 

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The Mets: Three Moves They Will Make This Offseason

I have achieved a somewhat Zen-like acceptance of the coming quiet offseason for the Mets. I believe that correctly or otherwise, the Front Office envisions the window of opportunity really opening in 2016 with a mainly home-grown 25-man roster. Maybe I spent too much time reading Baseball America during my formative fan years, but I am at peace with that decision.

Meanwhile back on earth, there have already been a plethora of articles predicting the offseason moves the Mets might/could/should make. My sense is that the promulgators of these scenarios are either bored, naïve, or are following the example of a certain Mets Blog, manufacturing rumors or regurgitating manufactured rumors to build traffic.

The Mets will make moves, at least three of them, this offseason. To spare you the suspense, they appear below. And, for the record, I did consider bringing the fences in as one of them, but that’s a little too low, even for me!

    1. They will move Jeurys Familia to the closer role. This is more of a gut feeling than actual statistical analysis, as both Familia and Jenrry Mejia performed similarly in 2014. Both were revelations last year. Mejia was certainly entertaining, but he strikes me as more of a reliever who closes than a closer. Familia exhibited some shut down stuff during 2014. Mejia gets the eighth inning, which dovetails nicely into this next move…
    2. Bobby Parnell is moved off the roster. With the closer and setup roles spoken for, that leaves the less defined roles like long man, spot starter and ROOGY. The Mets have Carlos Torres, Rafael Montero and Vic Black for these roles, all of whom are far cheaper than Bobby and shouldn’t be less than twelve full months removed from Tommy John surgery when the 2015 season starts. I envision Parnell being non-tendered, then being offered (and refusing) a minor league deal; ultimately signing an incentive laden contract with another team.
    3. Curtis Granderson is moved to leftfield. This creates a sham right field scrum between Matt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Brandon Nimmo during Spring Training. In actuality the job is den Dekker’s, until/unless his performance indicates that his 2014 AAA numbers were a fluke. Kirk is already slated for a pinch hitting role and Nimmo for Vegas. Long term, I believe the job is Nimmo’s as they also envision him as a Nick Markakis-type of leadoff hitter.

Honorable Mention:

Dillon Gee is moved to the bullpen. After a long winter of trade rumors for any number of obscure back-up shortstops and speedy, light-hitting outfielders, Gee opens the year as the other long/swing man. Knowing the Mets, they will then deal him in April when his trade value has sunk even lower and they rediscover their need for a second lefty out of the bullpen.

Not Going Anywhere:

  1. Daniel Murphy: He is the opening day second baseman. I don’t think they have any desire to commit to Daniel long-term, but still see him as a valuable piece for at least one more year until Dilson Herrera is fully ready.  It wouldn’t surprise me either to see Murph get a Qualifying Offer next winter, which he will turn down. I think the Mets believe the extra draft pick will garner them a higher-ceiling player than they would get in a trade for Murph.
  2. Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese : While the crown jewels of the organization will hold down the top three spots in the rotation, these two will round it out, providing a veteran presence and the ability to eat innings. Colon may be traded sometime in July, as by then the money still owed him has dwindled and Noah Syndergaard is free from Super Two eligibility.
  3. Ruben Tejada and Eric Young Jr.: Both have roles that GM Sandy Alderson would have to otherwise scramble to fill. And apparently Sandy doesn’t like to work in the winter.

Sorry folks but it is all about 2016. I will state FWIW, that I don’t necessarily think this inactivity is all bad. I still can’t stand the sight of Jeff and Fred, I find Alderson’s condescending attitude extremely annoying and I think that Terry Collins is a mediocre in-game manager. That said, I have warmed (somewhat) to the direction that the team is going. I also disagree with the common wisdom that the Mets’ farm system lacks any viable position players. For example, I was impressed by the Nimmo-Herrera top of the order combo in Binghamton last year. Barring injury, both are near locks for the 2016 team.

Speaking of which, I’ll wager that Alderson and Co. envision this team in ’16: the four aces in the rotation, the flamethrowers in the pen and a batting order of  Nimmo/Herrera/Michael Conforto/Lucas Duda /a Travis d’Arnaud-Kevin Plawecki job share/David Wright/Juan Lagares/Gavin Cecchini. Granted there are many potential potholes along the way to this lineup and I am violating Capwell’s Corollary by projecting onto two players below the Double-A level.

Conforto is the guy to watch. If he zooms through the system and reaches Binghamton next summer, he could conceivably make the squad out of  the next Spring Training. If he hits say .220 at St. Lucie in 2015,  they likely end up dipping into their prospect pile to get another bat. Meantime they hope for an adjusted outfield wall-aided resurgence from Grandy and a chance to deal him.  Wilmer Flores and den Dekker are probably viewed as little more than inexpensive placeholders for Sandy’s “guys.” If either one of them hits it big, it’s like winning the lotto: unexpected, but you’ll take the results.

Your turn…what do you think will happen this offseason?

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Joe Maddon and Mike Piazza

I still remember where I was (northbound on Route 287 just past Somerville, NJ) when I heard on WFAN that the Mets had acquired Mike Piazza. Three days later, I was at Shea Stadium for his Mets debut. The moment he stepped on the field wearing a Mets uniform, the team was transformed into a contender. It was the start of a rare period of sustained success for our otherwise mainly downtrodden heroes.

The Mets moved boldly when Piazza became available, acquiring him despite the presence of Todd Hundley, who had been one of the few bright spots on the team in the mid-1990s. Hundley after all,  had broken the record for most home runs hit by a catcher and was both a homegrown hero and a very quotable media darling.

For Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons, this is their Piazza moment. Joe Maddon is available. Maddon is widely regarded as one of the best managers in the game and in every aspect, except one, is the perfect fit for the team. Unfortunately for the penny pinching Mets, his rumored contractural demands will put him beyond their reach. Rather than admit that, they will hide behind the  “we are very satisfied with Terry Collins” line. Now, I get the fact that Terry, like Hundley before him, did a lot for the team under trying circumstances. But had the Mets stuck with Hundley over Piazza, there is no back to back playoff appearances, no walk off series clincher against the D-backs, no Grand Slam Single and no 2000 NLCS win.

If the 2015 Mets stumble out of the gate the Collins watch will be on anyway. A Maddon hiring avoids that for them. Like they did in 1998, they need to thank Terry for his contributions and move him aside for one of the premier talents at the position. But apparently, it isn’t about winning.

If you, like me, are watching the World Series wondering how far away the  Mets are from this stage, you might be getting your answer.

 

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Craig on Mets’ List?

allen-craig

Normally, I am the first to denigrate any trade proposals and I fully expect the Mets to do nothing of the sort, but given the dearth of news about the Mets these days, there really isn’t much else to write about and I need to scratch this itch. So here goes.

The Mets should trade LHP Jon Niese to the Boston Red Sox for LF/1B Allen Craig.

Boston added Craig at last year’s trade deadline, in exchange for John Lackey, a move that you may have missed due to some of the more dramatic trades made that week. A listfranc injury limited Craig to just 29 games for Boston in 2014. He batted a measly 128/234/191 for the Sawk, likely attributable to the injury. But in the previous five years with the Cardinals he hit 291/343/460 with OPS of 803. More on him in a minute.

In what most Met fans would consider as a disappointing year, Niese’s 1.28 WHIP was a career best and he logged 187 innings last year, three off his career high in 2012. With the exception of the now-departed Jon Lester, Niese statistically out-pitched every 2014 Boston starter and came close to matching Lester in several (good) categories. While not an ace, Jon represents the next tier of pitchers and is a solid, less costly left-handed alternative to Lester. The Red Sox have a glut of outfielders, first basemen and designated hitters, so the opportunity convert some of that into a pitcher such as Niese may prove hard for them to resist.

As for the Mets, they get a man who has been called one of the best pure hitters in the major leagues. A right handed hitter, he can provide relief for Lucas Duda or Matt den Dekker against tough lefties. He could hit anywhere from second to fifth in the lineup, extending both it and the bench. He has even played a little second base. It is worth repeating that the Mets don’t necessarily need to add a slugger as much as they need to add a slasher like Craig, who consistently puts the ball in play. And, he is not bereft of power— just ask the Texas Rangers.

Unfortunately, any Met trade discussion has to include salaries. Here’s the beauty of it, the Niese and Craig contracts are nearly identical for their duration:
Year          Craig           Niese
2015             $5.5M         $7.0M
2016             $9.0M        $9.0M
2017             $11.0M       $10.0M*
2018             $13M*        $11.0M*

*Team Option
On the flip side, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been characterized as wanting to win every deal and this one carries some danger. The major risk for the Mets is Niese is two years younger than Craig and could be entering some of his prime years locked into a team-friendly contract. Craig’s foot injury is the type that might never heal and if so, his best years are behind him.   That’s why you have team doctors check him out first. The betting here is that the Mets have enough pitching to cover Niese’s departure (even if this deal is made and then goes south). I also think that they actually run a greater risk with an ill-advised free agent signing or  dealing away multiple prospects for a power hitter.
I am starting to talk myself into believing this could actually happen. What do you think? Sound off below.

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