C’mon now, seriously?
Before you get too attached to the Mets’ biggest position-player pickup of the offseason, you may want to brace yourself for the possibility that Andres Torres is non-tendered.
If you recall, Tillman, who will be just 24 next year, was, not too long ago, one of the most highly regarded pitching prospects in the game. Drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft by Seattle, the Mariners traded Tillman in a five-player package highlighted by outfielder Adam Jones to the Orioles for Erik Bedard before the 2008 season. Tillman’s prospect profile took off from there; he dominated AA in 2008, ranking as the 22nd best prospect in the game by Baseball America heading into 2009. Tillman continued his success in AAA the following year, making his major league debut at 21 years-old in July of 2009.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, Tillman’s arrival has thus far marked the high point of his career. He has bounced between AAA and the Majors the past two seasons, struggling mightily in the big leagues; he is 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA in 180.2 career innings. His fastball velocity has steadily declined over the last three seasons, from an average of 92 mph in 2009 to 89.5 last season (although that might be partly be due to throwing a two-seamer more often), and his overall development has clearly stalled.
One thing I find interesting is that Tillman’s performance did show some marked improvement at the big league level in 2011. In 62 innings, he posted a 5.52 ERA but his BABIP (.348) was high and his LOB% (65.7%) was well below the league average. His K/9 rate was 6.68, and his BB/9 3.63, both of which aren’t too far from average and was an improvement over his 2010 campaign. Tillman’s Achilles heel is his extreme fly-ball tendencies, inducing grounders just 37.3% of the time in 2011. Nevertheless, Tillman’s 4.83 xFIP is far more representative of his 2011 season. While not exactly ace-like, it’s hardly terrible, especially considering he pitched in the AL East.
What’s perplexing is that Tillman actually performed worse in AAA during 2011, posting a 6.25 FIP with a 6.37 K/9 and 4.48 BB/9 in 76.1 innings. Perhaps he was just experimenting at the AAA level, and his big league performance is a better reflection of what he is capable of right now.
On the plus side, Tillman doesn’t have any history of arm injuries. Even if he does regain his old form, Tillman’s fly-ball propensities will probably preclude him from ever really dominating at the big league level. But, many pitchers — such as Ted Lilly — have performed quite well in spite of similar fly-ball tendencies. Worst case, Tillman can very easily be a decent bullpen arm.
And who knows, the good ol’ change of scenery might do wonders for the youngster. While it’s hard to say the Orioles have shown a systemic failure in developing young pitchers, a long line of disappointing pitching prospects — Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Tillman, Matt Hobgood, Daniel Cabrera, Hayden Penn, Rhadames Liz, newly signed Met Adam Loewen, Matt Riley, etc. — at the very least, suggests Tillman might benefit from working with a different coaching staff.
So would it be worth trading F-Mart for Tillman? Tillman probably has a better chance of making at least some impact for the Mets, as either a back-end starter or a middle reliever, given his lack of injury history. At this point, whom would you rather gamble on?
It never ends for the talented and heralded Mets prospect; the latest news is that Fernando Martinez has a hamstring issue.
I keep reading in various places that the Mets have earmarked a portion of their meager winter budget for a fourth outfielder. If this is true, why?
It’s pretty much been established that the 2011 season will not be one seeing the Mets fighting for a playoff spot. Call it “rebuliding”, “assessing and evaluating”, “reconstructing”, or whatever you wish — the bottom line is that the team is not making a conscious effort for the short-term, and is only in the nascent stages of the long-term plan. That said, why would there be any concern about acquiring a fourth outfielder — even if it is low on the list of priorities?
Moreover, don’t the Mets already have a fourth outfielder somewhere in their system? Unless something changes between now and opening day, the starting outfield will consist of Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, and Jason Bay. None of these three men need a defensive replacement in the late innings, and none are likely to be lifted for a pinch-hitter in any situation, either. Beltran is the only of the three who may require regular rest; if he’s the starting centerfielder, Pagan will slide into his spot on those days and a the “fourth” outfielder will step into a corner.
Now that we’ve established the regular routine, what do the Mets need from that fourth outfielder?
Ideally, he’s someone who can provide some power on the days Beltran (or Bay) is absent from the lineup. It would help, but is not necessary, if he can cover all three outfield positions; if Pagan turns out to be the starting centerfielder, both Bay and Beltran are capable of handling CF when Pagan needs a break. Additionally, this extra outfielder should also be a potentially strong pinch-hitter. In reality, the Mets probably are best suited with not only a fourth outfielder but a fifth one as well — but that “fifth” would also be versatile enough to handle an infield position (or catch) and have a slightly different skill set (i.e., hit from the opposite side, provide speed if the other has power, etc.).
Taking a cursory look at the Mets 40-man roster and high-level minor leaguers, there are several candidates to fill these roles:
For once, I agree with Marty Noble. And it’s unfortunate.
Top Mets prospect Fernando Martinez is off the field again, this time suffering from blister problems.
F-Mart is currently on the roster of Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.
From Adam Rubin’s report on the issue:
The continued trouble has led to advice from ex-Met Moises Alou, who is GM of Martinez’s winter-ball team. Alou, who used to urinate on his hands to increase the skin’s toughness, has recommended Martinez do the same thing.
Martinez injured again. Moises Alou is the GM. Before you even get to the urine thing, there are already a dozen jokes to be made.
If nothing else, this Mets offseason is providing plenty of laughter.
The New York Mets have sent outfielder Fernando Martinez back down to AAA Buffalo and have promoted Nick Evans from AA Binghamton.
It is assumed that Martinez was sent down in order to ensure that he would continue to play every day. Though F-Mart did not look overmatched in his debut stint in the bigs, he also did not prove to be much of a difference-maker. What we’ve learned is that he’s a solid all-around ballplayer who needs more time to develop his bat. A star in the making, but not a star just yet.
Interesting to see Evans get the callup as opposed to Wily Mo Pena, who has been hitting .333 in the month of June and starting to show some power. But, Pena is not on the 40-man roster and is out of options, while Evans is on the 40-man and can be optioned back to the minors.
After a very rough start and a demotion to AA, Evans has recently righted the ship, batting .390 with 2 HR, 6 doubles, and 6 RBI in his last ten games. My guess is the Mets are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, and take advantage of the fact Evans is currently “locked in”. If so, it makes sense to start him at 1B right away, if not tonight then tomorrow. Evans has been sharing time with Lucas Duda at 1B and also playing some outfield.