Tag: cory sullivan

Mets Pick Up Pridie, Entertain Endy

jason-pridieIn a bold move to bolster the roster, the Mets claimed Twins outfielder Jason Pridie off waivers; they DFA’d former Rutgers pitcher Jack Egbert to make room for Pridie on the 40-man roster.

Pridie was once a promising prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, who was dealt along with Brendan Harris and Delmon Young to Minnesota in the trade that sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett south.

For those unfamiliar with Pridie, he is a lefthanded-hitting outfielder with good speed and excellent defensive skills, but not much offense despite a sweet-looking swing. The 26-year-old has exactly 4 MLB at-bats and is a .276 hitter through over 3500 minor-league ABs. There was a brief point early in his career that the Rays moved him to the infield (third base), but ultimately his skillset was deemed more appropriate to the outfield.

Essentially, he is a slightly younger, inexperienced, free-swinging version of Jeremy Reed or Cory Sullivan (actually, he kind of looks like a mashup of the Reed and Sullivan, doesn’t he?). In 2008 he struck out 152 times in 603 AAA at-bats, while clubbing 16 triples and 13 HRs. Last year his strikeouts dropped to 85 (in 546 ABs), hitting .265 with 9 HRs and 5 triples, but walked only 19 times.

In related news, the Mets are considering bringing back fan favorite Endy Chavez — according to John Paul Morosi. Chavez is reportedly doing very well in his rehab from major knee surgery last year, and could be back on the field as early(?) as April or May. Of course, that’s what the agent of every player returning from surgery says.

From Morosi’s report:

At this point, Chavez and his agents must decide on one of two courses of action: Chavez could sign with a club soon and rehabilitate with the team’s medical staff throughout spring training, or continue his workouts individually and stage a showcase in late March.

Really? A “showcase”? Hey, I love Endy as much as any Mets fan, but he’s not Ben Sheets. Hopefully the knee doctor did as good a job on Endy’s surgery as the spin doctor did with this hype.

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Centerfield Options

As we all know, Carlos Beltran has underwent knee surgery and is expected to be out for 12 weeks. No one is sure if “12 weeks” refers to the time before he can walk, run, or play ball. No one has made clear that it is “at least 12 weeks” or “a minimum of 12 weeks”. The recent history of communications from the Mets in regard to player injuries, though, tells us that the “12 weeks” means little or nothing.

That said, we’ll pretend that Carlos Beltran will NOT be in uniform, in centerfield, in April, and possibly not until May (which, in Metspeak, means, he most likely will be back in the lineup sometime in August).

Who will play centerfield for the Mets while we wait for Beltran’s return? Here are some of the possibilities.

Free Agents

Rick Ankiel
The best free-agent centerfielder still available on the open market. He has no desire to play in NYC, and is coming off an injury-riddled season in which he hit .231.

Alfredo Amezaga
The second-best free-agent centerfielder still available. Hits from both sides of the plate, has good speed, and can play every position on the diamond except catcher. He hit .217 last year and turned 32 a few days ago. In his prime years (27-29) he was a semi-regular super utlityman who hit in the .260s with no power.

Endy Chavez
Endy is coming off major knee surgery that ended his 2009 season. He turns 32 in a few weeks. His age and his surgery likely will affect his once excellent range. Neither issue should affect the fact he has no power, no plate discipline, and is a streak hitter.

Johnny Damon
There was a time that Damon was adequate in centerfield. That time has long past. Comically enough, there have been some pundits who suggest signing Damon for left field and shifting Jason Bay to center — many of the same pundits who previously insisted that Jason Bay’s defensive skills in left field would nullify his offensive production and ultimately doom the Mets.

Cory Sullivan / Jeremy Reed
Either of these choices would provide stellar defense, solid fundamentals, hustle, and good baserunning but only limited offensive production. The cost would be very affordable — likely under $1M.

Reed Johnson
This name is being bandied about more than Sullivan/Reed and I don’t understand why — Reed Johnson is essentially the righthanded, more expensive version of those two. I guess it’s a matter of people preferring change for the sake of change.

Rocco Baldelli
Is he healthy? Can he play every day? Does he want to play in NYC? If the answer is “yes” to all three it’s a no-brainer. But we don’t know the answers.

Randy Winn
Winn has been coveted by the Mets for several years, as his name comes up in rumors every July. He hasn’t been an everyday centerfielder since 2004 because his range is limited. He might be an OK stopgap, providing solid if unspectacular all-around performance. Certainly he is a well-rounded, fundamentally sound ballplayer with extensive experience and has a good rep off the field / in the clubhouse.

Jerry Hairston, Jr.
This name has been suggested by various sources recently. Why, I have no idea. Hairston is essentially an older, more versatile, but otherwise less-talented version of Reed Johnson. His main value is the ability to stand in several different positions on the diamond, but, at none is he particularly stellar — centerfield included. In any case, it appears he’s about to sign with the Padres.

Eric Byrnes

The price tag should be cheap, and if he’s healthy, he might be an OK option — if he’ll sign an MLB-minimum contract. The Crashtest Dummy last played CF regularly in 2006, and no one knows for sure if he’s healthy enough to walk out to center, much less play it.

Gerald “Ice” Williams
I’m kidding.

Trade Candidates

Gary Matthews, Jr.
The Angels are dying to rid themselves of Matthews and his contract — and will probably pay some or all of his salary to make him go away. He hasn’t performed anywhere close to his “enhanced” career year with the Rangers in 2006, and is now 35 years old.

Ryan Spilborghs

The rumor mill was rife with Spilborghs’ name earlier in the winter, and he remains an extra outfielder on the Rockies’ depth chart. The Beaneheads love him for his OBP, and he can cover centerfield adequately enough to be a worthwhile stopgap. But at what cost, and is he any better than Angel Pagan?

In-house Possibilities

Angel Pagan
The most likely and most sensible solution is Angel Pagan. He has the physical (if not mental) skills to handle center field more than adequately, and showed in 2009 that he can be an offensive force in spurts.

Fernando Martinez

Do we really want to watch him be overmatched in MLB when he should be further developing his skills, confidence, and ability to stay on the field in the minors?

Jason Bay / Jeff Francoeur
Even if either of these players was capable of handling centerfield for more than a week, it would still create a hole in one of the corners. Not plausible.

Conclusion

I think we know the way the Mets will go — they’ll plug in Angel Pagan and hope for the best. And looking at the alternatives, it’s not a bad plan. Though, I’d prefer they also back him up with a solid, cheap defender such as Jeremy Reed or Cory Sullivan, AND have a “Plan B” in place — Randy Winn would appear to be the most logical choice in terms of availability and cost. Winn can fill in as a late-inning defender in center and left, and be a veteran bat off the bench — he can just as easily play every day, and/or split time in a platoon situation. Maybe if Ankiel were more interested in playing in New York I’d think differently, but that plus his history suggests he isn’t “built” to play in a big market.

What do you think?

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2009 Analysis: Cory Sullivan

cory-sullivan-19Back in January, the Mets made a series of blockbuster moves to sate the hunger of disgruntled fans. First they picked up lights-out LOOGY Casey Fossum, then they brought back Argenis Reyes, before capping the excitement with the signing of Cory Sullivan.

At the time, the Mets were unaware that Jeremy Reed was part of the trade with Seattle — they were so excited and busy patting each other on the back after hoodwinking the Mariners into handing over J.J. Putz that Reed was an afterthought. Further, the person who inked Sullivan had not yet received the telegram from the department of the organization that drafted Carl Loadenthal in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft (perhaps the message was sent by Pony Express, which tends to be slower in the snowy winter months).

We assume these things because Sullivan, Reed, and Loadenthal are all essentially the same player:

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2009 Analysis: Carlos Beltran

carlos-beltran-1How do you evaluate a half-season of performance that was riddled with nagging injuries?

Carlos Beltran played in 81 ballgames — exactly one-half of a 162-game season. A good number of those games where played on an injured knee, so there’s some reason to believe that his numbers could have been even better.

Those numbers were pretty impressive by the way. He posted a .325 AVG, 22 doubles, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 11 SB, 47 BB, and 43 K, with a .415 OBP and .915 OPS. Had he been healthy, Beltran likely would have been among the top 10 NL hitters in most offensive categories and won another Gold Glove. But it was not to be.

Instead, the day Beltran was placed on the disabled list

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Mets Game 135: Win Over Cubs

Mets 6 Cubs 2

Break up the Mets!

The Mets won their second consecutive time, and for the second time in two days. In other words, they’re on a two-game win streak!

Bobby Parnell was fabulous, shutting out the Cubs on only five hits through seven stellar innings. He worked out of two tough bases loaded situations — one in the second, and one in the seventh — in what was arguably his best performance as a Major League starter.

Unfortunately, the bullpen was unable to hold the Mets’ slim one-run lead, and Parnell’s gem resulted in a no-decision. However, the Mets did win the game, thanks to the dam busting in the Chicago bullpen.

The Mets surged for six runs on six hits against three Cub pitchers in the eighth inning, breaking the game wide open and allowing plenty of cushion for the ninth. As it was, the extra insurance was helpful, as Brian Stokes allowed a run and left the game to Frankie Rodriguez with the bases loaded. Frankie Fantastic proceeded to induce a popup from Aramis Ramirez and struck out Jake “Grand Slam” Fox en route to his 29th save of the season.

Ironically, the Mets pitcher who was least effective — Stokes — was awarded the win.

Notes

Bobby Parnell looked loose and comfortable for most of the contest — when he was pitching from the windup. However, when he threw from the stretch, his body language changed just a bit — enough to look tense — and he seemed to be trying too hard to hit spots. Not quite aiming, but “spotting”, if that makes any sense.

There were a few other issues with Parnell’s otherwise outstanding performance that did not sit right with me. First, I didn’t like that he was using the slider as his main secondary pitch, mainly because it’s a pitch that should not be thrown in the strike zone and also because it’s a shortcut strategy that tends to be inconsistent — see: Mike Pelfrey. I’d much prefer to see Parnell experimenting more with his changeup and failing (and eventually finding success in the future), than getting lucky with flat sliders that float over the middle of the plate. The slider should be a “put away pitch” when he is ahead on the count.

Second, Parnell threw very few fastballs in the bottom of the strike zone. Nearly all of his strikes were above the belt, and most of his low fastballs were in the dirt or just above the shoetops. Though, it was good to see him get a number of swings and misses on pitches up in the zone and out of the zone. Bottom line is that I’m not sure Parnell’s success was of his own doing, or more the result of poor hitting.

Sorry to rain on the Parnell parade, but that’s what I saw. At the same time, I’m thrilled he was able to get this kind of a performance under his belt, for the purpose of building his confidence. He needs to know that he can get big-league hitters out, and this game was proof that he can do it. I also liked the way he responded to the bases loaded, no-out situation in the seventh — that was HUGE, and impressive, especially considering he was near the end of his rope in regard to pitch count. But he still needs a lot of polish. Blame Mike Pelfrey for causing me to be so cynical about Parnell — because to me, Parnell is right now where Pelf was in 2006.

The Cory Sullivan Theatre was performing on this particular evening, as Cory hit a solo homer and made a magnificent diving catch to prevent an extra base hit. A strong September finish by Sullivan could spell the end of Jeremy Reed’s career as a Met — though, Reed has been exceptional in his role as a pinch-hitter. The Reed – Sullivan competition is likely the most legitimate audition occurring this month.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Cubs do it again at 1:10 PM in Flushing. Nelson Figueroa faces Rich Harden. Rumor has it that Josh Thole will catch Figgy.

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Do the Auditions Really Matter?

The Mets’ season has been officially meaningless for several weeks now, making the last quarter of the season something of a mass tryout. Heading into September, we’re hoping to see a few more fresh, young faces, and assuming we’ll garner information that will help shape the 2010 Mets roster.

Or will we?

A major consideration is this: what happens if some of the auditions go bad? For example, what if Bobby Parnell continues to have trouble getting past the fourth inning, remains very hittable, and still doesn’t have a reliable secondary pitch at the end of September? He still will be penciled in to the back of the 2010 rotation, won’t he? Somehow, the Mets will glean a shining moment or two from his outings, grasp onto it, and spin it as the reason he has “a bright future”.

Similarly, we’ll get a whiff of Josh Thole — and if he fails, does that mean the Mets will sign Bengie Molina or make a blockbuster trade to bring in a new catcher over the winter?

In contrast, what if Thole hits .400 and proves to be adequte behind the plate over, say, a 15-game span? Is that enough of a sample to mark him down as the catcher of the future? To bring back Brian Schneider at a reduced rate to be his guru? Methinks the decision has already been made, one way or the other.

And what does this last month really mean for players like Cory Sullivan, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Reed? Are all three in competition for next year’s fourth outfielder position? Maybe, but if at least two of them are re-signed, the competition begins again next March, does it not? In fact, September likely means more to those three outfielders than to anyone else on the 40-man roster. (Though, in the end the least expensive of the three is most likely to be seen in Port St. Lucie in March — and that’s probably Pagan.)

Dan Murphy may be the biggest question of all — and one mystery that may not be unraveled by October. Should Murphy continue the strong pace he’s held for the last few weeks through September, he’ll finish around .275-.280 with a .325 OBP and maybe 10 HRs. What will that strong finish mean to the Mets plans for first base? The starting job for Murphy next year? And if Murphy slumps in September, does the plan become to acquire a first baseman?

Other than Parnell, is anyone getting a true “audition” for the pitching staff? The starting rotation currently includes Tim Redding, Pat Misch, and Nelson Figueroa. Are any of those three really being considered for next year? Figgy is coming off an outstanding start, but he’ll likely have to repeat that performance four or five times to get a legit shot at next year’s rotation. Yet, if Parnell pulls off a similar outing, many will point to it as a reason to mark him down as the #4 starter in 2010.

My point is this: during these “auditions”, people will see only what they want to see — the opinions are predetermined, and people will look for evidence to support that determination. If someone believes today that Bobby Parnell should be starting next season, it won’t matter if his ERA continues to balloon over the next four weeks — they’ll hang on to the fact that his slider has improved. If Figueroa spins three more starts like yesterday’s, they’ll be dismissed by those who view him as a journeyman at the end of his career. Should Dan Murphy slump in September, his supporters will accentuate his hot streaks and point out his advancement in the field; conversely, if he hits .350 over the final weeks, his detractors will harp on his lack of homerun power.

But that doesn’t apply only to fans — it’s also pervasive in the front office and the coaching staff. We know this because it’s the way they’ve operated over the past several years. Ironically, you need look no further than Murphy for the most recent evidence. As you may remember he was written in as the starting left fielder on the first day of spring training — it didn’t matter that Jeremy Reed flashed a better glove and was the team’s leading hitter. The handling of Mike Pelfrey at the beginning of his career was similar; the Mets made the decision that Pelf was ready for MLB and kept sending him to the mound regardless of how overmatched he looked (sound familiar?). The Mets’ expectations regarding players coming off injury is perhaps most telling. For example, the 2008 bullpen was built around the assumption that Duaner Sanchez would be the setup man –and stayed with that plan even after he failed to break a pane of glass in spring training. Similarly, they assembled the 2009 starting rotation with the idea that John Maine was 100%. Again, even after Maine struggled mightily all spring, he was expected to be the #2 or #3 starter. They had not seen his lack of command and hittability — they saw whatever it was they wanted to see (velocity? spin on the curve?), that would justify their preconceptions.

We can pretend that the final month is a “tryout” of sorts, but really, it’s four weeks to gather and collect information that supports preconceived notions. Along the way, someone for whom you have reserved no judgment may surprise you.

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Who Should Really Be Auditioning at 1B

1b-teeAfter 65 games at first base, Dan Murphy has shown he can be defensively adequate at the position. Other than a few brain farts and errors due to inexperience, Murphy is, right now, better than Mike Piazza ever was at the position.

If the Mets are serious about going into 2010 with Murphy penciled in as the starting first baseman — or even if they’re not — there is another player who should be getting reps at first base:

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Mets Game 100: Win Over Rockies

Mets 7 Rockies 0

Break up the Mets!

The steamrolling juggernaut known as the New York Mets flattened the Rockies for their fifth consecutive victory.

The Mets’ offense singled Jason Hammel to death in the second inning, giving ace Johan Santana an early five-nothing lead. They tacked on another two, but Santana needed only one, as he shut out Colorado through seven strong innings. Bobby Parnell and Tim Redding hurled scoreless frames to complete the victory.

Meanwhile, it was Cory Sullivan day at Citi Field. Sullivan played spectacular defense in left field and went 2-for-4 with a triple, a run, and one driven in — the first of the ballgame.

Notes

Every Met other than Santana collected at least one hit, and the team totaled 11 — 5 of them for extra bases.

Santana allowed only 4 hits and one walk in his 7 scoreless innings.

The Rockies had one chance to get back in the game, in the top of the fourth. With the score still 5-zip, they loaded the bases against Santana with two outs and slugger Ian Stewart at the plate. Santana got ahead 0-2, but Stewart tied into a changeup and drove it deep down the rightfield line, just foul. After a several more fouls and a few balls, Stewart finally went down swinging to end the threat and the inning.

What happened to Jason Hammel? Truth is, his location wasn’t all that bad — most of the hits against him came on pitches low and possibly out of the strike zone. But the Mets came out swinging aggressively and “hitting them where they ain’t”. It was borderline bizarre to see so many hits in such a short amount of time — a nightmare for the young righthander.

Jerry Manuel continues to play down the idea of “momentum” — he dismissed the idea during the postgame interview. I don’t get it, especially since he is a self-proclaimed old-school, “feel” guy who eschews modern stats and sabermetrics. Every other experienced, old-school baseball man will tell you that momentum is a major factor, both in a ballgame and over the course of a season. I would argue, in fact, that his negativity from a month ago sparked inverse momentum to depress the club. It’s very simple: winning breeds confidence and confidence leads to better performance, which leads to more wins — and that cycle is defined as momentum. And as Yogi Berra said, “90% of baseball is half-mental”.

Strangely enough, Manuel will talk about “going on a roll” or a “hot streak” when the “cavalry” returns. Don’t those terms relate to “momentum”?

Next Mets Game

The second game of the doubleheader and the final game of the series occurs tonight at 7:10 PM. Jonathan Niese faces Jorge De La Rosa. If Niese continues to pitch like Jerry Koosman, this game is in the bag. If not, I blame Jerry Manuel for poo-poohing the concept of momentum.

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