Tag: dan murphy

Mets ST Game 9

A few notes …

J.J. Putz

Putz, of course, did not play for the Mets but rather for Team USA in the WBC. Putz was called on to close out a 6-5 ballgame against Canada, and notched his first save in a nail-biter of a ninth inning. The good news for Mets fans is that Putz was humming his fastball at 94 MPH. So, the worries about velocity which we pointed out previously can be put to rest.

Dillon Gee

Gee looked much more comfortable and relaxed in comparison to his ST debut a few days ago. He exuded confidence, and though he definitely was not picking around the plate in the same way he was against the Cardinals, he also wasn’t throwing as many strikes as expected, going full count to several hitters in his two-inning stint.

Daniel Murphy

Murphy has been an on-base machine, is driving the ball to the outfield gaps, is heady on the bases, and is improving in the field. Ron Darling compared him to Dave Magadan, which to me is a very astute comparison. However I’m not sure I agree with Darling’s assumption that Murphy will hit with more power, since I’m not seeing the bat speed necessary for 40 doubles and 20+ HRs. I still like my own comparison of Murphy to Mike Hargrove — and if Murphy can equal Hargrove’s career, he’ll have a very nice MLB career.

Bobby Kielty

Kielty blistered the ball in his first two at-bats, and hustled all over the place. He has a long, tough road toward a spot on the 25-man roster, but he won’t fail due to lack of effort.

Nick Evans

I love Nick Evans, I really do. He reminds me of a guy I’d expect to see on the ’69 Mets, with his short-cropped haircut and “regular joe” looks. He’s been hitting to the opposite field like its his job, which is good and bad. It’s good because any hitter who hits the other way is a good hitter. It’s bad because Nick’s ticket to the big leagues is hitting for power, meaning homeruns, and generally speaking, that requires pulling the ball. If Evans had above-average MLB speed, and played a position other than first base, I might not be so concerned. But right now he projects as a guy who will hit around .275 with about 15 HR and 25-30 doubles. Those would be strong numbers for a first baseman in 1969, but not quite enough for an everyday job 40 years later.

Wilmer Flores

For 17 years old, he looks impressive. He’s a tall, lanky kid with a remarkably short stroke. In his first frew at-bats, he was too aggressive to make any kind of judgment, but he torched a double down the line in the 7th inning — which surprised me, because his open stance and excessive distance from home plate made me guess that he didn’t like inside pitches. The general consensus of the Mets’ staff is that he compares to fellow Venezuelan Miquel Cabrera, which is an astounding statement. Who knows? Seventeen is young, so there’s a lot of projection. If it’s any help, Cabrera received MVP votes after half a year in the bigs as a 20-year-old — so we may find out quickly whether those comparisons hold water.

The Sidewinders

Darren O’Day was brought in to face Ryan Zimmerman in a pseudo-regular season situation, and he walked Zimmerman on four pitches. However, he seemed to pitch better as he continued along in his two-inning outing, which suggests that maybe he wasn’t properly warmed up when he came into the game. In any case, I’m not yet sold on O’Day, who seems to have issues spotting the ball around the strike zone. I think his head moves around too much during his motion; if he could keep his head still, he’d probably throw more strikes.

Sean Green still doesn’t strike me as being an upgrade over Joe Smith, and I’m not even sure he’s Smith’s equal. His sinker starts at a high spot in the strike zone — about belly-button-high — and doesn’t drop much. And, I’ve yet to see a “punch-out” pitch from him, which means he’ll have to exclusively rely on ground balls for outs.


Roydrick Merritt reminds me of a lefthanded Cecilio Guante. His sidearm delivery may fool lefty hitters some day — IF he can generate just a few more MPH on that fastball, which currently sits around 88. However, it’s very tough for a sidewinder to increase velocity, because they are fighting gravity.

Casey Fossum may be the ultimate enigma. He throws nasty breaking curveballs at three different speeds — 63, 73, and 83 MPH — and he can get his fastball as high as 91. Yet, he’s incredibly hittable. His fastball is fairly straight and flat, and he rides it a little too high in the zone. He tries to make up for that by cutting it, but the result is usually a ball far out of the zone. If this guy can ever figure out what to do with his stuff, he should be successful. But it doesn’t look like that’s happening this spring.

Valerio de los Santos
does not look particularly special. His lefthandedness is the only thing keeping him in camp.

Rene Rivera

Is it me, or is every backup catcher in camp hefty ? Not that there’s anything wrong with being hefty, it just seems like there’s a specific type in mind. Personally, and from experience, I’ve always preferred catchers who were lean, nimble, and athletic, with quick feet. But what do I know?


Mets Sign an Outfielder

The Mets’ front office is really cooking with gas now! Hot off the heels of the Casey Fossum pickup, the team has now added Cory Sullivan to their outfield, signing the 29-year-old to a $600,000 contract that includes another $300,000 in incentives.

Obviously I can’t contain my excitement … especially when this signing comes so close after the Fossum deal. The Bisons are starting to look like a real AAA team — one that might actually provide competent support during the year in the event of injuries to players on the big club’s 25-man roster.

It does seem strange, though, that the Mets would scoop up another light-hitting, good fielding, centerfielder who hits from the left side. Endy Chavez was surplus last year, and the Mets already have Angel Pagan and Jeremy Reed signed to guaranteed MLB contracts, not to mention Marlon Anderson. Oh, and there’s Jason Cooper and Rule 5 (minor league phase) pick Carl Loadenthal, and the imminent arrival of Fernando Martinez. Considering that neither Carlos Beltran nor Ryan Church will ever be taken out of games for defensive purposes, all these Endy types are overkill, no? You can only put in one player at a time to play left field, after all.

FYI, Sullivan’s career: 355 games, 927 ABs, 8 HR, 78 RBI, 25 SB, .279 AVG., .330 OBP, .391 SLG. He does have the reputation of being a very good fielder, though the sabermetrics don’t necessarily support it.

The only way this signing makes sense is if it is a small part of something bigger brewing. For example, maybe the Mets are about to ship Ryan Church and Daniel Murphy to Colorado for Aaron Cook or Jeff Francis, and will then sign Adam Dunn and Manny Ramirez to play the corners — both of whom WOULD require late-inning defensive replacements. Pipe dream, I know, but dreams are about all we Mets have left at this point in the Hot Stove season.


Can the Mets Make a Deal?

It’s less than a month before spring training, and the Mets still need a frontline, #2 / #3 type starter; middle relief help; starting rotation depth; and a legitimate left fielder (who ideally bats with power from the right side). They also have a question at second base and might have interest in upgrading the catching position — though those issues are not nearly as dire as the others.

If you hear it from Omar Minaya, however, the only question is the starting pitching. Whether he’s lying through his teeth or not is up for debate, but his public opinion is that the middle relief will be handled by one of the rule 5 picks and Sean Green; the starting pitching depth is covered by Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell; and he’s very comfortable with Fernando Tatis and Dan Murphy in left field.

The reality is that, if he truly believes what he says, then the Mets are likely to finish in third … or fourth place. The Phillies, Braves, and Marlins all will be competitive in ’09, and the Mets as currently assembled do not look head and shoulders above any of them. They could tip the scales their way with the acquisition of a big bat and a solid starter, and there’s still time to do so.

However, it appears that neither of those acquisitions will come through free agency. It’s interesting to see the media and fans clamoring for the return of Oliver Perez — only months ago, many of these same people couldn’t see the inconsistent Ollie flee fast enough. That said, the idea that Perez is the “frontline” starter the Mets need is somewhat amusing. But hey, he’s the best left of a sorry lot, and if the Mets can re-sign him, then that one hole is filled.

But if they don’t, what is their recourse? The latest rumor suggests that Ben Sheets is the answer. Sheets does have frontline skills, but would the Mets want to add another health risk to a rotation filled with question marks? The next-best option after Sheets is Jon Garland, who is a nice innings-eater but at best a #4.

Conversely, the big bat the Mets need has been staring them in the face all winter: Manny Ramirez. For whatever reason, though, they continue to resist making an offer to the best righthanded hitter in the universe. After Manny, no options exist; the only other righthanded-hitting outfielders of consequence are Andruw Jones, Jay Payton, Jonny Gomes, and Kevin Millar (though, Moises Alou has not yet officially retired). Like Manny, the Mets have shown no interest in any of these players.

Maybe the Mets sign one of the aforementioned starters. But if they don’t go after Manny — and that appears to be a foregone conclusion — where will they find that righthanded bat for left field? Certainly not from the farm system — the only position player close to MLB ready is Nick Evans, who was overmatched in his short stint last year. A trade would have to be made.

But what do the Mets have available for a trade? Their organization is so low on valuable chips, it took four minor leaguers, three MLBers, and help from the Indians to obtain J.J. Putz. In order to make a trade for an impact bat, the Mets would likely need to orchestrate a similarly complex deal, or create another hole to fill.

Naturally, the Mets won’t be trading Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Mike Pelfrey, nor Johan Santana. You can probably add Carlos Delgado to that mix, and it’s hard to believe they’d swap away John Maine — he’s needed for the rotation and his injury puts his stock at an all-time low. No one wants Luis Castillo, so forget about that idea. Ryan Church might have some value, but because of his headaches, his greatest value may be to the Mets. Pedro Feliciano also might draw interest, but then the Mets are without a steady lefty in the bullpen. At times this winter, there’s been talk of moving Brian Schneider, perhaps to the Red Sox but 1) will he be enough to bring back an offensive force, and 2) if so, where do they find a new starting catcher? Would free agent Ivan Rodriguez be an option? The Mets would need to move fairly quickly to swap Schneider and still have time to sign Pudge.

Looking around MLB, there isn’t an abundance of available outfielders that fit the Mets’ needs. Righthanded hitters with some punch have become a rarity — which is why the Phillies were forced to add LH-hitting Raul Ibanez to their already lefty-heavy lineup. A quick look around turns up the names Eric Byrnes, Austin Kearns, Jose Guillen, Marcus Thames, Xavier Nady, and Gary Matthews, Jr., as players who might be available. Not exactly an awe-inspiring group, and yet most of them are probably unattainable in return for what the Mets have for trading chips. It might make sense to spin a youngster like Evans for a proven hitter stuck in AAA — someone like Matt Murton — or to take a chance on a guy who once showed promise, such as Gomes. But that doesn’t really upgrade the current situation of uncertainty in the outfield — rather, it muddles it further. There are only so many at-bats available in spring training to offer the likes of Tatis, Murphy, Evans, Jeremy Reed, Angel Pagan, Marlon Anderson, and whomever else is invited to ST.

Bottom line — unless their thinking changes in regard to the free agent pool, the Mets are likely to enter spring training with similar personnel as they have today. But of course, anything can happen.