I've been on the road, so we're going to skip the game-by-game stuff to point out three or so things by affiliate that I care about right now.

1. Cesar Puello is not just hitting, he's walking a little. After drawing one walk in an 18-game stretch from June 8th through July 7th, Puello has drawn seven free passes in his last 12 games while hitting .395/.491/.581 with seven walks, only eight strikeouts and a .444 BABIP in those dozen contests. Obviously, he cannot run a .444 BABIP in the big leagues, but the 8/7 K/BB sure seems like progress for the 22-year-old. He also had four doubles in his last three games over the weekend in New Britain. Puello is leading the Eastern League in batting average, (.332), fifth in on-base percentage (.401), second in slugging (.571) and tied for fourth in homers (16), and is third in stolen bases (23). More or less, the thing keeping him from AAA was his strike zone control.

I wonder at this point whether the Mets will promote Puello to AAA at all this year. The AA B-Mets are going to the playoffs, and are 11 games up in first while the AAA Las Vegas 51s are 0.5 games behind Tucson. His time in Double-A appears to have been very productive developmentally. More to the point, it looks like his game is still evolving as his recent K/BB shows.

 

2. Jenrry Mejia is not just alive, he's pitching well. Saturday night: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HR. He threw 62% (56 of 90) of his pitches for strikes.

A scout Adam Rubin talked to about Mejia's outing told him, "Very good," the scout said. "Plus cutter at 88-90 mph. Fastball velocity was 91-94 mph, which should improve with more innings. The curveball had plus 12-to-6 bend and tilt."

Just a week ago, I argued that Mejia had never really conquered AA and thus, it was the right level for him developmentally. I also believe that Chris Schwinden and his 6.00 ERA and 65/33 K/BB in 105 AAA innings this year has no business starting a big league game on July 26. There are two good reasons not to call up Rafael Montero for that start either: he would need to be added to the 40-man roster now, entering a winter where he would not other wise have needed to be added and more importantly, AAA hitters are giving him trouble as evidenced by his 4.50 ERA/5.68 RA and 47 hits in 38 innings. Meanwhile, his strikeout rate has plunged from 27.6% in AA to 19.6% in AAA while his walk rate has jumped from 3.8% to 7.7%. There is nothing in there that says, "ready for the big leagues."

Eliminating Montero and Swinden leaves Mejia vying for the spot in the doubleheader with Jacob deGrom (AAA 6 starts/36 IP: 3.00 ERA/3.00 RA, 18% strikeout rate, 6% walk rate. 48% gb rate). I like deGrom and his power sinker plenty, but when I saw him last, his slider needed lots of work. Considering he started the year in advanced-A, giving him a big league start would be quite a jump for the 25-year-old. Of that quartet, Mejia might be the best prepared for a spot start. That is consistent with saying that Mejia's development is best served by time in AA.

A quick note for completeness here: Mejia first appeared in a game this year on May 17 for the advanced-A Florida State League team. He made two starts there and then two starts for the GCL team starting on June 29. MLB pitcher rehab assignments are supposed to max out at 30 days for pitchers, so Mejia, if his current rehab is dated to June 29 is just about done with the minors this year unless the Mets spend an option on him now. If they do spend the option, he will have to make the team out of spring training. It's easier to hide him for a month now in August and then when rosters expand in September to preserve his final option for 2014. I do not know what the right course is with Mejia now, but I'm leaning towards giving him the spot start/keeping him in the big leagues/preserving the option for next year.

 

3. OBP is still (Offensive) LifeThe B-Mets are 62-37 and lead the Eastern League in on-base percentage (.351) and runs scored (511). The team has three guys in the top five in the EL in OBP Allan Dykstra (#1 - .462), Josh Rodriguez (#4 - .415) and Puello (#5 - .401). Dykstra at age 26 and Rodriguez at 28 are living out their peak years in AA. They will not be impact big leaguers, but they sure are impact AA guys. Danny Muno, at age 24 is #11 in the EL in on-base percentage at .246/.381/.385 with a ridiculous 65 walks against 71 strikeoust in 90 games.

Tags: Binghamton Mets, Cesar Puello, Jenrry Mejia, Toby Hyde

Sandy Alderson is surrounded by reporters during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings (Credit: Manning-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandy Alderson is surrounded by reporters during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings (Credit: Manning-USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets are not yet willing to pay some of Curtis Granderson's $15 million salary or Jay Bruce's $13 million salary to help trade them during this week's Winter Meetings.

"Not at this point," Alderson said Monday, when specifically asked about the scenario.

Alderson is not usually this vague, though, which makes me think he'll eventually give in. However, right now, it's early enough in the off season that he isn't feeling desperate. Instead, I'm hearing they're more likely to give up a prospect or two in the deal, so the acquiring team is incentivized to absorb Bruce's $13 million.

Remember, the goal here is to a acquire as many relief pitchers as possible before the start of spring training, and I see Alderson eventually getting his men one of the following ways...

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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Aug 4, 2016; Bruce (19) celebrates a three run home run with Granderson (3) (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Aug 4, 2016; Bruce (19) celebrates a three run home run with Granderson (3) (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Dec 6 | 8:00 AM

FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported on Dec. 5 that the Orioles have expressed interest in Mets outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis GrandersonHowever, "there doesn't appear to be much traction," according to Baltimore reporter Roch Kubatko.

The Mets are unwilling to pay any portion of Granderson's $15 million salary, and the O's are not looking to take on payroll this winter, Kubatko expains. 

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce
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In this week's second episode, Robert Brender does his best to convince MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone that the Mets should trade Michael Conforto for Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen.

Later in the show, Cerrone and Brender discuss Monday's news and rumors from D.C., including more on Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, O's reliever Brad Brach, and if the Mets should trade with the Royals.

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Alderson answers fans' questions 00:05:56
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson answers fan-submitted questions on Mets Hot Stove.

New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson talks David Wright's health, Jose Reyes' position in the lineup and what he thinks of Travis d'Arnaud when he answers fan-submitted questions on Mets Hot Stove.

Tags: David Wright, Jose Reyes, Travis d'Arnaud
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New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) reacts after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)
New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) reacts after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)

The Mets will work out Jose Reyes in the outfield during Spring Training, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday at the MLB Winter Meetings.

"We didn't want to do it last year, because we didn't want him working out at multiple new positions," Alderson explained about when the Mets acquired Reyes last summer.

Tags: Jose Reyes
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David Wright waits during batting practice before facing the San Diego Padres. (AP)
David Wright waits during batting practice before facing the San Diego Padres. (AP)

David Wright will be the team's primary third baseman entering spring training, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday during the Winter Meetings.

According to Alderson, Wright is on track to start baseball activities during December.

Last month, Alderson told WOR 710 AM radio that, while he's hopeful that Wright will return, the Mets need to be realistic about what to expect from him in 2017.

"I think that we're very hopeful he's gonna be able to come back and be productive," Alderson said. However, "I think we have to be realistic about how many games we can expect him to perform."

Tags: David Wright
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Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)
Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)

Dec 5 | 3:50PM

The Mets are also in contact with the Orioles about a potential trade of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who says the Mets have interest in O's reliever Brad Brach. Adam Rubin of ESPN recently reported that the Orioles rejected the Mets' initial asking price of a high-end reliever.

Brach, 30, had two saves and a 2.05 ERA (2.92 FIP), while striking out 92 batters during 74 innings with the Orioles last season. He has thrown 288 innings during his six-year career, including five straight seasons with an ERA under 4.00.

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McCutchen (22) at bat at PNC Park (Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
McCutchen (22) at bat at PNC Park (Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Rangers, Dodgers, Nationals, Mariners and a 'mystery team' have all recently asked about trading for Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, according to reports on MLB Trade Rumors.

The Nationals have pursuing him since July, Jayson Stark of ESPN recently said to Twitter. However, in addition to the above teams, the Mets, Orioles, Blue Jays, Giants, Phillies and Cardinals have all reportedly expressed interest in acquiring a center fielder this off season.

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SNY at MLB Winter Meetings 00:19:03
Andy Martino and Steve Gelbs discuss all the up-to-date topics with the Mets and everything else in the league at the Winter Meetings.

Earlier today, also on Facebook, MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone answered questions during a Live Q&A about the overall hot stove, and what's next for the Mets >> To watch Cerrone's Q&A, click here!

Cerrone will be doing another Facebook Live Q&A for SNY tomorrow around 11 AM ET, after which Gelbs and Martino will return at 1:30 PM ET with another Winter Meetings Live from Washington, DC.

SNY will be live streaming Sandy Alderson's mid-day talk with reporters on their Facebook page each day at 3:30 PM during the Winter Meetings, which you can follow here.

Lastly, later tonight, Cerrone and co-host Robert Brender will be recording their second Winter Meetings Podcast, recapping the day and looking forward to what's on tap for Tuesday. 

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Photo: Chris McShane
Photo: Chris McShane

The Mets' top prospect for 2017 is 21-year-old SS Amed Rosario, according an organizational Top 10 list by Baseball America..

The team recently added Rosario, RHP Marcos Molina, OF Wuilmer Becerra, RHP Chris Flexen, and Nido to their 40-man roster, which will protect them from December's Rule 5 Draft.

According to TPG Mets, no other players on BA's top 10 list are eligible.

Tags: Gabriel Ynoa, Gavin Cecchini, Robert Gsellman
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Travis d'Arnaud catches at Chase Field (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Travis d'Arnaud catches at Chase Field (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

"The Mets are fully planning to go with Travis d'Arnaud as the primary catcher in 2017 and don't foresee going the external route," ESPN.com's Adam Rubin wrote late Sunday.

According to Rubin, the Mets do not intend on pursuing free-agent C Welington Castillo, who was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks this past weekend.

Tags: Kevin Plawecki, Rene Rivera, Travis d'Arnaud
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While the Mets have reportedly been trying to shop one of their outfielders for a relief pitcher, here's what the rest of the NL East has been doing at MLB's Winter Meetings...

Washington Nationals

The Nationals could be looking to make two blockbuster trades -- targeting White Sox ace Chris Sale and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchenfor whom they might be willing to part with several top prospects, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

However, Washington could end up passing on a trade and, instead, go after free-agent outfielders Dexter FowlerIan DesmondCarlos Gomez and closer Mark Melancon...

Tags: Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Matthew Cerrone
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MLB's 2016 Winter Meetings will begin today at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. The Meetings conclude Thursday morning after the Rule 5 Draft.

The buzz around the game points to more trade talk than free-agent rumors. The Mets will be among them, since multiple reports indicate they're trying to swap Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson for an upgrade in their bullpen >> To read more about their plans, click here!

Later today on SNY's Facebook page, I will be doing a Live Q&A around 11 am, followed by a Hot Stove check-in from our guys in D.C.. We'll also be Live streaming Sandy Alderson's talk with reporters at 3:30 pm, after which Rob Brender and I will post a podcast here recapping the day's events >> To follow SNY on Facebook, click here!

In the meantime, to keep you warm until rumors, updates and news begin flowing later this morning, check out the following audio and video... Happy Hot Stove!

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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

Mets INF Asdrubal Cabrera will play for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

The WBC begins on March 6 and ends with the championship on March 22.

Cabrera, 31, played through a left knee injury for the majority of the second half of last season.

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera, Noah Syndergaard
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 (Jeff Curry)
(Jeff Curry)

The Mets have avoided arbitration with C Rene Rivera, agreeing with him on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, the team announced Friday.


Today is the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Head here to see the other Mets who are eligible >> Read more!


Rivera, 33, hit .222 with a .291 OBP and .341 SLG with six HR and 26 RBI in 65 games last season.

He threw out 30 percent of would-be base-stealers.

Tags: Rene Rivera
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Steven Matz joins Mets Hot Stove 00:04:08
Steven Matz joins Steve Gelbs on Mets Hot Stove to examine his injury history and moving forward with his career.

Mets LHP Steven Matz has been cleared by the Mets and team doctors to proceed with his normal offseason routine, he told WOR radio Thursday.

"The doctors said, 'You're good to go,'" he told WOR's Pete McCarthy.

Matz had surgery in late September to remove a large bone spur from his pitching elbow. He ended his season early due to a rotator cuff impingement, which Sandy Alderson said in November did not require surgery. Instead, Matz received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left shoulder.

Tags: Steven Matz
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Apr 20, 2016; Duda (21), Cabrera (13), Wright (5) and Walker (20) during a pitching change (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)
Apr 20, 2016; Duda (21), Cabrera (13), Wright (5) and Walker (20) during a pitching change (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

After years of injuries and ineffectiveness leading to a middle-infield-merry-go-round, the Mets find themselves entering the 2017 season with a stable tandem of shortstop and second base. Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are both coming off strong performances in 2016 and - ideally - they will provide a stable presence to an infield with question marks in the corners.

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Mets Hot Stove: Matt Harvey 00:04:12
The Mets Hot Stove panel discusses Matt Harvey's injury rehab and their expectations from the right-handed hurler in 2017.

In July, 2016, Mets RHP Matt Harvey had season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, which was done to restore feeling in his pitching arm and fingers.

According to former Mets GM and SNY analyst Jim Duquette, Harvey is not yet throwing off a mound, but he's feeling strong, on schedule with his post-surgery, off-season throwing program and will be 100% ready for spring training.

"He's had a great deal of time to work out and focus on his body and strength. We expect him to come back and be the Matt Harvey of old," his agent, Scott Boras, told reporters in early November at MLB's GM Meetings. "He's throwing free and easy and he's strong."

Tags: Matt Harvey, Matthew Cerrone
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Mets relievers Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed (Credit: USA Today Sports Images)
Mets relievers Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed (Credit: USA Today Sports Images)

Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said this offseason that he'd like to add at least one reliever to his bullpen before the start of spring training.

"There are some questions in the bullpen that we are going to have to answer, either internally or from external sources," he reiterated during Wednesday's press conference to announce the signing of Yoenis Cespedes.

Alderson said in early November that he has no interest in signing free-agent closers Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon or Kenley Jansen, who similarly have little interest in the Mets because Jeurys Familia is already the team's closer.

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Wheels in motion 00:02:52
Jon Hein and Marc Malusis discuss the Mets' plan of action for Zack Wheeler, including his possible use out of the bullpen.

The Mets have discussed using RHP Zack Wheeler in the bullpen to start the season, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo.

Wheeler, who had Tommy John surgery during March, 2015, was shut down in early September after being examined by Dr. James Andrew and diagnosed with a mild flexor strain in his pitching arm.

Wheeler went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA for the Mets in 2014. In addition to the flexor strain, his return to action was also delayed in 2016 after having an undissolved stitch surgically removed. He also had an anti-inflammatory injection to treat nerve pain...

Tags: Zack Wheeler
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