The Hot Stove Season is underway, and already we have a flurry of buzz and rumors. One whirlwind post from Adam Rubin is chock full of information (or misinformation, take your pick), which I’ll break down here.
Tag: jeremy reed
Phillies 4 Mets 2
An uninspiring loss on a gloomy day of sad memories through stormy weather.
Nelson Figueroa wasn’t pretty, but he did the job, holding the Phils to two runs in 5 1/3 innings while scattering 9 hits and 5 walks. He struggled every inning but somehow managed to keep too many runs from scoring. Unfortunately, the Mets offense was completely handcuffed by Cole Hamels, who allowed only one run through 6 2/3 innings.
Hamels earned his first win over the Mets since 2006, and his ninth victory of the season.
Hamels had an intriguing approach in this game, relying predominantly on his change-up and other soft stuff to set up his fastball, which he used sparingly. Generally you see more fastballs on a windy, rainy day, but the plan worked well for Hamels. The Mets waved weakly at the low-speed hurls and froze when the 90+ heaters entered the zone. In fact it looked as though the umpire was surprised at some of the fastballs, to the point where he might have missed a few calls that should’ve been strikes.
When Angel Pagan made a nice running catch to nab a Carlos Ruiz fly ball in the seventh, Keith Hernandez remarked, “That was ‘Carlos Beltran-esque’. Angel Pagan can go get ’em, he’s an excellent defensive outfielder”. He forgot to add, “when he’s not running into other outfielders, misjudging fly balls, taking bad routes to balls in the gap, and forgetting how many outs there are.” Otherwise, yeah, he’s “excellent” out there.
Jeremy Reed is quietly winning a job as a fourth or fifth outfielder next year — though it may not be for the Mets. He ripped his 15th pinch-hit of the season, which would’ve scored anyone in baseball from second other than Omir Santos or Ramon Castro (unfortunately, Santos was the runner). Having that kind of bat in the late innings is hard to find, and rarely found matched with a plus-plus glove and above-average speed. However, I doubt the Mets will pay the $1M+ he’ll command. Watch him get non-tendered and hook up with someone else next year.
Things are so bad that I caught myself rooting for Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth at certain points in the game. Sorry, but it’s hard for a former player not to appreciate the effort and execution of the Phillies. They’re tough, motivated, unflappable, confident, and polished.
The Mets have now lost four in a row, and are 19 games behind the league-leading Phillies. I’m not certain, but I think one more loss this weekend will mathematically eliminate the Mets from the NL East championship.
Next Mets Game
The Mets and Phillies do it again at 4:05 PM on Saturday afternoon. Eternal enigma Mike Pelfrey faces the ageless Jamie Moyer.
Where They Are Now: Ezequiel Carrera
This afternoon I received an email from the Southern League announcing that Ezequiel Carrera of the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx had won the batting crown.
I’m thinking … “hey, that name sounds familiar!”. Of course it does — Carrera was one of the two dozen players traded by the Mets for Sean Green last winter.
The speedy centerfielder finished the year with a .337 AVG, and also led the league in on-base percentage with a .441 clip. The 22-year-old Venezuelan native also stole 27 bases.
Of course, the Mets are set in centerfield through 2011 with Carlos Beltran, so if the Mets held on to Carrera he wouldn’t have a shot to make the club until he was at least 24 years old. And even then, there’s a good chance Jose Reyes will still be around to man the leadoff spot.
Further, anything can happen between now and then. Carrera’s batting crown is for the Southern League, which is AA ball. Some players can make the jump from there to the bigs but Carrera will likely have to prove himself for at least another year — either by repeating AA or in AAA next season. And truth be told, Carrera is a slap hitter with speed and a good glove — along the lines of a Luis Castillo. In other words, not a potential superstar. Still, thought you’d be interested to see how a former property of the New York Mets performed this year.
A sickening feeling came over me after again looking at this December, 2008 trade:
Mets trade Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith, Endy Chavez, Jason Vargas, Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera, and Maikel Cleto in return for J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed, and Sean Green.
Here’s part one of the analysis:
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.
Quick quiz: who is the man in the picture to the left?
I’ll give you a few hints:
1. He was part of the trade with Seattle that brought J.J. Putz and Sean Green to New York.
2. He led the team in batting average during spring training.
3. He’s currently .313 and has played excellent defense in the outfield.
4. For about a 48-hour period, he was the team’s starting first baseman.
The National League predictions have been posted, so now it’s time for New York Mets – specific prophecies. You may like some of them, you’ll likely hate a few of them, and nearly all of them are unlikely to occur. But what the heck, let’s go …
The key to the Mets’ success this year will be tied to health and the production of Carlos Delgado.
Jose Reyes will hit 25 triples, 17 of which will come at home in Citi Field.
Johan Santana will win 21 games, and take the Cy Young.
John Maine will struggle so mightily in the first half that he will be sent to the minors to work out issues with his mechanics and command.
Livan Hernandez will be the tortoise and Oliver Perez the hare, and Livan will quietly emerge as the Mets #3 starter by year’s end, posting 13 victories.
Maine and Perez will combine for less than 20 wins.
Darren O’Day and Sean Green will combine for 20 decisions in middle relief.
Mike Pelfrey will take a no-hitter into the 9th inning, but settle for a one-hit shutout.
Tim Redding will throw less than 50 innings all season.
Luis Castillo will receive consideration for the All-Star Game, and finish the year with a .295 AVG., .375 OBP, and 28 SB.
Danny Murphy will have trouble keeping his average above .250 in the first six weeks of the season, and Gary Sheffield will take over as the starting leftfielder.
Sheffield will be a key run producer for the Mets, and finish fourth on the team in RBI.
Very few “Putz” jerseys will be sold by the Mets, for obvious reasons.
Not one “Shawn Green” jersey will be sold to a patron thinking it’s a “Sean Green” jersey.
Jeremy Reed will substitute for a disabled starter at some point in the season and go on a tear, making fans almost forget Endy Chavez.
Reese Havens will rocket through the Mets’ minor league system, and be considered for a September call-up.
Ryan Church will be traded to the Rockies.
Aaron Heilman will struggle against the Mets, but will otherwise succeed in Chicago. He’ll get a few starts when Rich Harden goes down and prompt the Cubs to move Sean Marshall back to the bullpen.
The Mets’ lack of a second LOOGY will be a major point of concern, and trade rumors will swirl around the names Eddie Guardado, Matt Thornton, and Alan Embree. The Mets will wind up with Bobby Seay, against whom lefties hit .303 lifetime.
The Mets will have a strong record aoutside the division, but will be only a few games above .500 against NL East teams.
Jose Valentin will make it back to the 25-man roster before the end of the season.
Bobby Ojeda will start doing commercials for the Hair Club for Men.
With Opening Day only four days away, the Mets’ 25-man roster is set. Few, if any, surprises dot the list, though at least one individual may have been slighted.
Here are your 2009 New York Mets:
* Livan Hernandez
Joseph Jason Putz
1B Carlos Delgado
2B Luis Castillo
3B David Wright
SS Jose Reyes
UTL Alex Cora
Fernando Tatis (UTL)
Marlon Anderson (1B / 2B)
* Nick Evans (1B)
(* – Livan Hernandez will join the roster on April 11th, presumably to replace Nick Evans)
There wasn’t any competition for the starting lineup positions, and four of the five rotation spots were earmarked, so much of the above is unsurprising. Livan Hernandez took hold of the fifth starter’s spot in the first week of spring training and never let go.
So the real mystery — if there was any — came in regard to the bullpen and the bench. Darren O’Day was a Rule 5 pick, and pitched well enough to earn a spot. I think he’ll be a sleeper coming out of the ‘pen. Brian Stokes was fairly effective in the spring, and was helped by the fact that most of the ST invites brought in to compete for bullpen spots were underwhelming at best. Stokes also is out of options, and likely would have been plucked by another team if waived. Similarly, Sean Green pitched well in March and was more or less a lock, as was Pedro Feliciano and the two closers. The only surprise is Bobby Parnell, who impressed by touching 97 MPH on the radar gun and posting a 2.19 ERA. I’m a little skeptical on carrying Parnell, due to the 9 walks he gave up in only 12 innings, and the long fly balls that resulted when his fastball veered chest high over the middle of the plate. Personally, I would’ve preferred to see Nelson Figueroa on the staff as a long man, especially after his excellent performance in the WBC. Apparently, facing some of the best hitters in the world in a playoff-like competition does not weigh as heavily as pitching against AA hitters in a spring training atmosphere. Go figure.
As for the bench, we knew that Alex Cora’s $2M contract guaranteed a spot, and Ramon Castro was similarly set. Marlon Anderson was also retained for financial reasons, though also out of respect, I surmise, because he didn’t hit very well. I’m OK with that, as I’m a huge fan of Marlon and believe he is a good clubhouse presence. But if he needs to hit to stick around — this situation is eerily similar to that of Julio Franco in 2007.
Tatis was a no-brainer for the bench after Dan Murphy was named the starting leftfielder. He’s an ideal guy to have around for his versatility and occasional pop. Reed was the best of the dozen or so light-hitting, defensive-minded, Endy Chavez replacements. I like Reed quite a bit and wonder why he’s not the one starting in LF, after hitting a blistering .418 with a .500 OBP in the spring. Talk all you want about Danny Murphy, but from what I saw, Jeremy Reed was the most impressive all-around outfield candidate in camp.
The demotion of Figueroa — and subsequent longer looks at schlubs such as Fernando Nieve and Elmer Dessens — was deplorable. What more did Figgy have to do this spring? If it weren’t such a wide open competition, it would be somewhat understandable. In 7 2/3 high-pressure innings, Figueroa gave up zero runs, struck out 6, and posted a 0.68 WHIP. The Mets are in need of a flexible guy in the bullpen — one who can handle both long and short duties — and Figgy fits the bill. Strange.
Tony Armas, Jr. was cut after pitching one scoreless inning. I thought for sure he would be assigned to AAA Buffalo; perhaps he eventually will.
Jose Valentin was also released, which was sad. If not for the guaranteed contract given to Cora, he might have had a chance. Like Armas, he may eventually be assigned to a minor league club — my guess is that the team will discuss with him a player-coach position in Buffalo, or a straight coaching job at a lower level.
Similarly, Andy Green was demoted quickly, despite invigorating an otherwise boring spring with heightened enthusiasm and hitting like crazy. He reminded me of Joe McEwing, during Superjoe’s heyday.
Freddy Garcia wasn’t in shape, and pitched poorly, but I believe and hope he builds himself up in the minors, as I have a funny feeling he’ll be needed at some point.
What happened to Eddie Kunz? Not a peep about him all spring.
No huge surprises, as the Mets’ roster was fairly set due to financial commitments. There is a concern that Pedro Feliciano is the only lefty coming out of the bullpen, but the LOOGYs brought in ranged from awful to ordinary, and it doesn’t make sense to carry a lefty for the sake of carrying a lefty.
On paper, the roster looks fairly solid up and down. Let the games begin.