Tag: zack wheeler

Link Roundup: Tempered Optimism

Mets Wheeler Baseball.JPEG-0c742

Spring Training is always the time of year when every team feels they have a chance.  Fans of each team concentrate on their strengths, and say, “hey, maybe this is our year.”  As a Mets fan, I begin to get those thoughts once again, and then think, “Naaah.”  It would probably take a miracle that would make the ’69 Mets look like the surest bet in the history of sports.

OK, maybe that’s hyperbole – but it certainly feels that way.  That’s not to say there aren’t positives to look forward to this year.

Watching the progression of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler is something to genuinely get excited about.  Finding out if Travis d’Arnaud is truly the catcher of the future is worth watching.  And of course, we can always wait for the next nutty statement by Fred Wilpon.

Don’t forget this year’s promotions, which include “Bark in the Park” and something called “Stitch N Pitch.”  There ARE some cool bobbleheads being offered this year, though.

As for their on-field performance, it’s easy to be pessimistic, but with the Yankees aging, maybe they can begin to win back New York with their youth movement, even if they don’t win the division.

If nothing else, we can all rest easy knowing that Jenrry Mejia is who he says he is.  That’s not a surprise – if you were to make up a name, would you choose “Jenrry?”

And baseball is closer than you think.  The Mets will play the Nationals this Saturday, and it will be televised on the MLB Network.  That’s definitely something to look forward to.

 

 

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Blog Roundup: Mets > NFL Replacement Refs

Don’t look now, but the Mets have won 4 in a row.  How’d they do it?  By beating up on teams that are even less competent than they are.  They swept the hapless Marlins in a series that Mets’ radio announcer Josh Lewin described as “schadenfreude theater.”  It was nice to see another team implode for a change.  Then they won the first game of the series against the Pirates, a team that has echoed the Mets’ pattern of getting off to a hot start, only to collapse in the second half.  Ike Davis hit 2 home runs in the game to raise his tally to 30 for the season.  Who woulda thunk it (to coin a phrase)?

To the Blogs:

For more bright spots, keep reading Mets Today.

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Sandy Alderson: GM or Caretaker?

So, are the Mets expecting to contend for a playoff spot this year? I can’t fathom why they’d hold on to pieces like Tim Byrdak, Scott Hairston and Chris Young if they thought otherwise. We heard from one source that Sandy Alderson “monitored” the list of available players, while another source claimed he “had his finger on the pulse” of the trade market.

So what is he, a civil war ironclad? Or a physician’s assistant? He certainly isn’t acting like a GM. In actuality, he and his three brainy helpers (DePodesta, Ricco and Ricciardi) seem to be little more than caretakers for the increasingly moribund Wilpon Estate. Managing the day-to-day operations with a petty cash fund appears to be all that they can do (or are entrusted with).

I was not expecting Alderson to spin Byrdak, Hairston or Young into a top prospect, the way he did with the Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler deal last year. Nor did I want a swap for AAAA filler that would only clog up 40-man roster spots. I accept the fact that no one wants Jason Bay and I am opposed to moving Daniel Murphy or Ike Davis for middle-inning relief help.

What I was hoping for was a little creativity: a bundle of say Hairston and Young for one or two B/B+ prospects. In this way, something is built from nothing. Hairston, Young and Byrdak all signed as Free Agents and didn’t cost the Mets anything in terms of players or draft picks. By dealing them, Alderson could have added a little fuel to his bargaining power; building depth for the deals he will inevitably have to make to improve the 25-man roster. This may be derided in some circles as “small market philosophy,” because the Kansas City Royals do it, but it has also been effective in building winning teams in places like Minnesota, Oakland, San Francisco and Washington. You may recall circa 1998-2000 and Steve Phillips being unable to acquire either Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling, mainly because he had already drained the cupboard bare in acquiring Al Leiter and Mike Piazza and didn’t have the equivalent of an a Carl Pavano or an Omar Daal left in prospects that Boston and Arizona respectively, had to offer.

Then there is the entertainment factor. Player moves are an important part of baseball’s appeal. Fans eat up trades and rumors of trades. Trade talk sells papers and builds traffic on websites. To stand pat during the trade deadline while your team is floundering only serves to further diminish the allure of your product. This comes after a winter of inactivity and the very likely prospect of another uneventful off-season ahead. Teams can get a lot of mileage out of deals and not just in terms of player production. Trades generate some free publicity and (sometimes) improved ticket sales. A move or two would have served as a gesture of goodwill to a discouraged and frustrated fan base that the front office feels the same way and is finally willing to do more than just talk about it. For a team having a poor season like the Mets are, the July trade deadline deals can offer a topic-changer and possibly keeps them from dropping entirely off the radar screen after football camps open.

Instead, the club is clinging stubbornly to the status quo: the final third of the 2012 Mets’ season will be done playing out the string with a mixture of semi-prospects trying to establish themselves as Major Leaguers, a few star players looking for an exit and some marginal veterans as roster filler. Meanwhile they will continue to talk out of both sides of their mouths. Yes we are building for the future and no; we aren’t giving up on this season. So please buy tickets and merchandise. In reality they aren’t doing much of either. (But they do want you to spend your money). If they planned on contending, why didn’t they add a piece or two? If they are playing for 2013 and beyond, why not move some vets for chips?
This has become distressingly familiar ground for us. I had hoped that the arrival of Alderson and his associates meant the dawn of a new age for the Mets. Instead, it’s Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss…

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Down on the Farm: Wheeler, den Dekker, Flores impress

Here are four questions/statements that you might be asking yourself two months into the minor league season.

Is there a true ace in the Mets system?

One of the biggest weaknesses within the Mets organization is the lack of a bonafide #1 starting pitcher. Many fans believe that Matt Harvey is going to be that ace. But the rest of the league looks at him differently. Most see Harvey as a 2/3 starter. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a true ace down in Binghamton. There’s the case of Zack Wheeler, the lone piece acquired for Carlos Beltran at the deadline last season.

Wheeler has dealt with control issues throughout his career and he’s dealing with them again. However, the walks tend to get lost behind the blazing fastball, and strikeout totals he pumps out in each start. After a rocky debut, Wheeler has really shined in Binghamton. He’s K’d 29% of the batters faced, keeping hitters in the Eastern League at a .189 AVG. He has a WHIP of 1.17 and his BABIP is .279, a huge improvement from last season (BABIP .361).

The negative part of Wheeler’s game is his inability to control all pitches. He walks 4.54 per game, a 3-walk increase from last season. Keep this in mind when you try to explain that he deserves a promotion to Queens. It’s one thing to have the shiny numbers, but real success is when you can locate and control all pitches. He’s starting to come into his own and Mets fans should be excited. Wheeler has dominated Double-A hitters and looks destined for a call-up. Get ready for Wheeler in 2013.

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Mets Spring Training Question 10: Who Will Be the Phenom?

With ten days before pitchers and Molinas report, let’s look at who might be the PSL “phenom”.

Nearly every spring training, there is one youngster who tears it up, or lights up the radar gun, and performs so overwhelmingly impressively that we fans are convinced we’ve seen the next Mets superstar … or at least, an All-Star. It’s that player who proves the philosophy of “hope springs eternal”, or “spring training hopes are eternal”, or something like that.

In the recent past, the “phenoms” of spring training have included Lastings Milledge, Fernando Martinez, Brian Bannister, and Ambiorix Burgos, among others. Sometimes — like Dwight Gooden — the phenoms pan out. Other times — like Gary Rajsich — things don’t quite work out so well once the regular season begins.

Considering that the Mets are entering a rebuilding year centered around their youth, one would think that this is a good opportunity for at least one “phenom” to emerge. Who might that be?

The best guesses are Jordany Valdespin, Reese Havens, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, and Zack Wheeler. But those are easy, right? OK, I’ll pick a few “no-names” to throw in the mix: Kai Gronauer, Zach Lutz, Matt Den Dekker, and Cesar Puello. Those last four have no pressure on them, not much in the way of expectations, and nothing to lose, so my bet is that they’ll be aggressive, feel loose, and as a result have a good shot at gaining spring training stardom.

What say you? Who do you think will establish himself as the “phenom” in Port St. Lucie this spring? And what phenoms do you remember from spring trainings past? Answer in the comments.

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Will Wheeler, Familia, and Harvey Repeat History?

NOTE: this is a guest post by Jimmy Prinzler. Enjoy.

The Mets’ top three pitching prospects at this time are Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, and Matt Harvey. Assuming they remain with the organization, what will they bring to the Mets?

My best guess is that all three will pitch together in the 2013 rotation — unless Wheeler surprises us all early by arriving in Flushing in late 2012. Regardless, once they arrive, what do those hurlers bring to the table?

It’s pretty obvious that they will strike out many hitters. In the minors, Wheeler posted 124 Ks in 113 IP, splitting his time in advanced “A” ball in San Jose and Port St. Lucie; Familia had 128 Ks in 119 IP in Port St. Lucie and AA Binghamton; and Harvey struck out 154 in 132 2/3 IP between Port St. Lucie and Binghamton. All told, that’s 406 strikeouts in just 364 2/3rd IP — or, 1.1 Ks per inning. In comparison, Stephen Strasburg dominated in the minors with a 10.6 K/9 in his first year of minor league ball, which translated to 12.2 K/9 at the MLB level with the Nationals last year — why can’t the Mets’ three future aces deliver similar numbers?

Looking at the big picture, there is another benefit to one strikeout per inning — it means the defense needs to procure only two outs each frame, which may reduce errors. Ergo, having these kinds of strikeout pitchers could make this team more solid on defense. Bases loaded with one out? No problem — the pitcher strikes out one and the defense gets the third out on a ball in play. (OK, that’s only a theory, and it would be great if it really worked out that way, but you get the idea.)

I know a lot of Mets fans are eager to see three pitchers from the farm come up together and I believe it’ll happen. The 2013 Mets rotation could consist of Harvey, Wheeler, Familia, Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese (not to mention, if he gets healthy, Jenrry Mejia could sneak in as well). Historically, the championship Mets teams were built around good young pitchers from within their farm system — maybe history is about to repeat itself.

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Down on the Farm: St. Lucie Mets

With summer closing and my second year of college approaching, I picked up another job. This job is on a farm. The description says I must weed and harvest. So I’ll do the same with the Mets, as I take a look “on the farm” at some of the Mets prospects (or weeds — it depends on your perception).

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Zack Wheeler Struggles in St. Lucie Debut

Last night’s pitching debut by Zack Wheeler as a minor leauge Met didn’t go as smoothly as the young pitcher might have wanted it to. Wheeler allowed four runs on seven hits in four innings, striking out four and walking none in a rain-shortened 9-1 loss to the Dunedin Blue Jays.

Coming off a highly anticipated trade from the San Francisco Giants to New York for outfielder Carlos Beltran, some wondered if Wheeler just was experiencing jitters.

He told the NY Post after the game,

“I felt good. There really wasn’t that much pressure going into it. It hasn’t really been stressful, but I came out a little tight.”

Wheeler hit 99 mph on the radar gun three times and threw 54 out of 82 pitches for strikes.

Prior to the trade, Wheeler made an adjustment to his mechanics.

“I’m back to what I was doing in high school — a high leg kick and high hands in my windup,” he said. “Before, the Giants tried to settle me down a little bit, and I guess settle down my motion.

“But I felt like I was counting . . . I was just thinking way too much. I had too much time, and it wasn’t really flowing. I just feel more comfortable now.”

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