Tag: mets

Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets

It was unfortunate that the New York Mets had to play one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Atlanta Braves this weekend. After dropping the first two games, the Mets were able to hand the Braves its first loss of the season behind a solid performance from Bartolo Colon.

The Mets return to Flushing with a 3-3 record to host the Philadelphia Phillies (3-3) in the home opener at Citi Field, where the team went 40-41 last season. The Phillies are coming in off a series victory over a talented Washington Nationals club at home. In the season series between these teams in 2014 the Mets won 13 of the 19 contests.

Monday’s Matchup:

RHP Aaron Harang (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (0-1, 3.00 ERA)

I’ll give Harang credit that he has been able to stay in the league this long (14 years). The 36-year-old had a rough 2013 season posting a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts for the Seattle Mariners before being designated for assignment and picked up by the Mets. Harang allowed nine earned runs in 22 innings in his short stint with the Mets.

In his 2015 debut Harang held the Red Sox at bay for six innings and only surrendered two hits. Harang is a flyball pitcher, so pitching in Citi Field could play to his benefit.

As for deGrom, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year showed that he hasn’t skipped a beat by going six innings, allowing two runs and striking out six in first start of the season. He did an excellent job of using his fastball as a put away pitch in his 2015 debut, recording five of his strikeouts with it. Phillies hitters should struggle with that pitch, especially if he can locate it in the top of the strike zone or even above it.

Tuesday’s Matchup:

RHP David Buchanan (0-1, 18.00 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Much like deGrom, Buchanan was a rookie that was able to have a reasonable amount of success in the NL East last season. Buchanan went 6-8 with a 3.75 ERA in the 20 starts he made in 2014. The Mets should have no problem putting the ball in play against him as he only struck out 71 batters in 117 innings pitched last season. Buchanan allowed six runs in three innings against the Red Sox in his first start last week.

Harvey definitely lived up to the expectations of his much-anticipated 2015 debut. The young phenom struck out nine Nationals hitters, including Bryce Harper three times, in his six innings of shutout ball. Harvey has faced the Phillies five times in his career and is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA and has only allowed 15 hits in 38 innings. This could be fun one to watch for Mets fans.

Wednesday’s Matchup:

RHP Jerome Williams (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. LHP Jonathon Niese (0-0, 1.80 ERA)

Williams pitched for the Astros, Rangers, and finally found a home with the Phillies in 2014 before adding to the list of seven teams he has played for in his 10-year career. Williams pitched extremely well in the nine starts he made in Philly last season, posting a 2.83 ERA in 57 innings pitched. He was able to continue that positive trend into his first start of this year, where he held the Nationals to one run over six innings.

Niese made his 2015 debut against the Braves, throwing five innings of one-run ball in a 5-3 loss. The left-hander has pitched more innings against the Phillies (123), than against any other team in the league. Niese has enjoyed reasonable success against them, going 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 19 starts. Niese will need to be tough against this left-handed heavy Phillies lineup that has once-feared hitters like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

Players to watch

Phillies:

Philadelphia second baseman Freddy Galvis is off to a solid start so far this season, hitting .318 in first 22 at-bats. Ben Revere may not be off to a hot start at the plate (.167 avg.), but don’t expect him to stay cold for long as he hit over .300 in each of his last two seasons. Revere is also a threat on the base paths that Travis D’Arnaud will need to worry about.

Philadelphia has had a lockdown bullpen so far this season, allowing six runs, five of which have been allowed by Jacob Diekman. Middle-relievers like Ken Giles and Leury Garcia will be very valuable in this series if the Phillies back-end starters can’t go deep into games.

Mets:

Lucas Duda is swinging a hot bat for the Mets through the first six games, with eight hits (seven singles) in his first 21 at-bats. Look for Duda to capitalize against this weaker pitching and start to add up some extra-base hits. On the other side of the spectrum, Curtis Granderson has a whopping one hit in his first six games played — though he’s leading the NL in walks with 7. Facing a flyball right-hander like Harang could help Granderson bust out of his early-season slump.

Jeurys Familia will be the closer for the foreseeable future after Jenrry Mejia was suspended 80 games for testing positive for the new MLB performance-enhancer of choice, Stanozolol. Familia notched his first save as the team’s closer in the victory over the Braves on Sunday.

This is no longer the Phillies team that was a perennial contender in the National League. Jimmy Rollins is now a Dodger, Utley is 36 and Howard has almost played out that atrocious $125 million contract. While the Mets are (kind of) trending upward, the Phillies are in a slow, painful decline. It’s not ridiculous to say that this team could be very similar to 2011-2014 Astros over the next four years.

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Wilpons on Verge of Important Re-Fi

According to the New York Post, Mets ownership is close to refinancing a $250 million dollar loan. The re-fi is expected to give the team more financial flexibility:

Until recently, it wasn’t certain investors weren’t going to insist the team owners pay down some of the loan to get the refinancing done.

Wilpon and Katz will not be asked for any cash paydown, sources said.

Plus, interest payments are expected to stay about the same, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.

The Mets spent about $87 million on free agents this offseason – a marked jump in spending from the past few years, in particular last offseason, when they spent only $5 million. Perhaps optimism about this re-fi was part of the reason the Wilpons felt comfortable loosening their wallets this winter.

They’re still not spending with the big boys – and no one is going to outspend the Yankees, whether you play in New York or not – but the point is to have the financial flexibility to make the moves you have to make, rather than settling on a team full of minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training.

I doubt this news will inspire any more huge transactions this offseason – Stephen Drew is still in play, but the Mets seem to be treating him as a nice-to-have, not a must-have.

As much as I’ve been critical of the Wilpons, they are at least making an active effort to get out from under the debt left to them by Bernie Madoff.

I hope the next time Fred Wilpon says his financial troubles are over, like he did last year, that it’s really the truth.

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Wilpons Apparently Limit Budget to $25-30 Million

According to John Harper of the New York Daily News, Mets ownership is changing their tune about the team’s budget.

Following the season, Jeff Wilpon stated that finances were no longer a problem for the team.

“It’s all in the rear view mirror,” Wilpon said about past financial woes.

If that were actually the case, then the high cost of free agents wouldn’t matter, right? What am I missing? In this article from October 29th, Wilpon was paraphrased as saying:

…the Mets will have the financial wherewithal to address those needs. After years of working with a bloated payroll thanks to big contract to Johan Santana and Jason Bay, and the financial burden of pending legal matters from the Bernie Madoff scandal, Mets Sandy Alderson will be unencumbered when the Mets hit the market, Wilpon said.

Fred Wilpon has made similar assertions, even as far back as February. And in every case, they seem to present GM Sandy Alderson as the only roadblock to spending. From Fred:

Asked if the team payroll, which is now about $90 million, will soon enough return to the $140 million level it stood at several years ago, Wilpon said: “I asked Sandy about that. He said he couldn’t invest that much money.”

From Jeff:

“Depending on how it all presents itself, that has always been part of the plan, to use the money coming off the books and improve the team,” Wilpon said.  I can’t tell you exactly how it’s going to happen, as we get further into the offseason, we’ll know a little better.

It’s the Wilpons’ money, and now, according to Harper, they are dictating to Alderson how much to spend. That was the case all along. They told previous GMs Omar Minaya and Steve Phillips how much to spend (and when to spend it) as well. The GMs proceeded according to their marching orders.

Having a lavish budget doesn’t guarantee a contender, but it certainly gives a team more flexibility to acquire the pieces it needs. If what Harper says is true, Alderson once again has to get creative on a relatively limited budget dictated by an ownership group that is still financially limited, no matter what they’ve said publicly.

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Free Agent Targets: First Base

The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.

We’ll break them down by position. In the last post, I looked at shortstops. In this post, I’ll take a look at…

First Basemen

The Mets enter the offseason with the thought that they can start next year with an in-house option (or options) at first base. While they don’t have a great first baseman under their control right now, if they improve at other positions, they can live with a guy like Lucas Duda or a Duda/Josh Satin or Wilmer Flores platoon. Before you laugh, they’ll at least give you a .350 or so OBP, and Duda is good for 15-20 homers if he stays healthy. They could even take a chance on a comeback season from Ike Davis, but rumor has it they’re trying to trade him.

If they fail to upgrade in the outfield or shortstop, they may look to upgrade at first base. If they do, here are few possibilities.

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Free Agent Targets: Outfielders

The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.

We’ll break them down by position. In the last post, I looked at relief pitchers. In this post, I’ll take a look at…

Outfielders

So many outfielders, so little time (and possibly money – but that’s been talked about ad nauseam).

The Mets seem happy with Juan Lagares and his defense in centerfield, but would like to upgrade the corners. Here are some possibilities:

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Free Agent Targets: Relief Pitchers

The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.

We’ll break them down by position. In the last post, I looked at starting pitchers. In this post, I’ll take a look at…

Relief Pitchers

The Mets bullpen had another poor season statistically in 2013, but a lot of their failure came from a few sources, like Brandon Lyon, Rob Carson, Greg Burke, and Josh Edgin (during his first stint in the majors).

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