Valentino Pascucci, something of a cult hero in certain segments of Mets fandom, was looking for a job hitting baseballs. Instead, he found a job teaching others how to hit them, as the hitting coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats, the Mets Single-A affiliate.

Pascucci, who turned 35 last November, was coming off a 30 home run season, split between Reynosa in the Mexican League and Camden in the Atlantic League, bopping 15 in each. But he and his 191 Triple-A long balls and career .266/.390/.493 line in over 1,000 games could not find a job on a Major League team’s 40-man roster or in Japan.

And so, it was time for a change. Truthfully, the Mets have had their collective eyes on Pascucci as a coaching candidate since at least 2011 and 2012 when Pascucci was still playing for the team's Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.

“It started back a couple of years ago with [Minor League Field Coordinator] Dick Scott,” Pascucci said, “We talked about what I wanted to do when I was done playing – if there was an opportunity to coach, they would love to have me back as a coach in the organization.”

This year there was. After Pascucci's preferred Japanese team went with another hitter, Pascucci and Scott got back together and finalized a deal in mid-January.


The Philosophical FitPascucci drew a walk in 15.5 percent of his minor league plate appearances and hit 301 doubles and 281 minor league homers. His style, represents, pretty closely, the kind of patient, powerful hitters the Mets are looking to develop.

Mets Hitting Coordinator Lamar Johnson, who oversees the minor league hitters and hitting coaches, talked about Pascucci, the hitter: “When you watch him play, and watch him hit, he does everything you would like a hitter to do. A guy like that, with that kind of discipline, that kind of plate coverage, and that kind of power, hey. He’s perfect for what we’re trying to do.”

Pascucci hit like a Mets farmhand, even before he was a Met.

“I kind of fit in with the Mets philosophy,” he said. “They want you to get a good pitch to hit. If you get it, drive it. If not, recognize it, [and] lay off it. Most of my career, I think I did a pretty good job of that.”

Johnson liked that Pascucci, did not just wait for his pitch, but he did damage when he connected: “He was a guy that would get good pitches to hit and when he got good pitches to hit, he would drive them. What he did at the plate was our main philosophy: always get a good pitch to hit.”

Even though he stood 6'6" and north of 200 pounds, with tremendous power, Pascucci took pride in using the whole field.

“Keep it to the big part of the field, the hits will come.” he said he always told himself. “I stayed to the big part of the field. Hit a lot of balls to right-center. It’s that old saying, 'Hard in, soft away.' I know guys are going to try to do that to me, so I just stayed looking out over the plate … recognizing offspeed and laying off of it was a big part of my game."

Where other hitters, particularly guys his age, were skeptical about drawing walks, Pascucci saw their value.

"I knew if I could draw a walk and get on base, then we’d have a runner on base, and the next guy would have a good chance, with a double, we’re scoring," he said, likely making wise baseball fans weep for joy.


A Different Kind of Hitting Coach.

Pascucci represents a departure from other Mets minor league hitting coaches in that he was a more successful, more powerful hitter than most of the other hitting coaches and managers in the system. He has more professional American home runs than the other seven managers and hitting coaches for the Mets full-season affiliates combined. It’s "Scooch" 281 – everyone else 103.

Pascucci represents modern baseball.

[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]

;Level;Yrs in Minors;HR;HR/Yr;Career MiLB SLG;MiLB AVG;MiLB Iso;

George Greer;AAA;4;32;8.0;.402;.275;.127

Luis Rivera;AA;6;1;0.2;.297;.259;.038

Joel Fuentes;A+;5;4;0.8;.316;.260;.056

Valentino Pascucci;A;13;281;21.6;.481;.266;.215

Wally Backman;Mgr AAA;6;13;2.2;.377;.297;.080

Pedro Lopez ;Mgr AA;13;49;3.8;.359;.247;.112

Ryan Ellis ;Mgr A+;5;2;0.4;.317;.251;.066

Luis Rojas;Mgr A;1;2;2.0;.352;.240;.112

[/sny-table]

One of these things is not like the others: Pascucci. He is the only one with an isolated slugging percentage above .130, and his was a healthy .215 in the minors.

The power comes second for Johnson, because, before you can be a power hitter, "You’re a good hitter first."


Now A Teacher

Pascucci went from looking for a job as a player in to walking into Spring Training as a coach just four months later.

“It was weird walking into the other lockerroom,” he said in Port St. Lucie. “There are some young players that were here my last year with the Mets. My last year in Tiple-A was 2012 with the Mets, so a lot of the guys knew me.”

Pascucci cannot teach his charges to be replicas of himself. Instead he has to figure out how to improve 25 guys. This is the hardest part of being a hitting coach. As he explained the challenge: "Just watching all the guys, learning all the personalities. … Communication with them is just going to be the key.”

Johnson, with over two decades to his credit, knows that learning personalities is perhaps more important than teaching mechanics.

“That’s going to be the toughest thing for all hitting coaches," he said. "Getting to know [the hitters] as individuals, what they need everyday and being there for them, especially times when things are not going well. You've got to be like a dad, a philosopher – you've got to be all that to those guys. Getting to know the players is the most important thing."


And the Kids?

The Gnats have the Mets’ last two first round picks, SS Gavin Cecchini (2012) and 1B Dominic Smith (2013) on the team.

Smith confesses he didn’t know who Pascucci was early in Spring Training.

“When I first saw him, I thought he was a pitching coach, because he didn’t say too much to us,” Smith said.

That changed quickly.

“He knows what he’s talking about. He’s really helping me become a better hitter,” he said.

Already, his charges are starting to sound like mini-Pascuccis.

Smith:

“He just really wants to emphasize for me, and a lot of the hitters in the lineup, to stay up the middle and in the opposite field. A lot of pitchers in minor league baseball work the outside half, so that’s what we have to be looking for and ready to hit. We have to learn how to drive those balls on the outer half because they don’t come in too many times, and if they do, our hands are quick enough to get to the inside pitch.”
Cecchini:

“Pascucci, what a great hitter he was, is always preaching stay up the middle, stay up the middle, stay on balls. Look for something out over the plate.”
Pascucci’s instructions -- and it’s early yet -- have been straightforward. Cecchini likes it.

“He’s been great," the shortstop said. "He keeps things simple. Its not so much things with your hands, or your feet or your load. Everyone has a different swing. He just works with you, and your routine and [focuses on] your approach.”

Pascucci's two big league periods as a player lasted 74 plate appearances with the Expos in 2004 and 11 plate appearances with the Mets in 2011. In between, he played in Japan, Albuquerque, New Orleans, Lehigh Valley, Portland, Camden and Buffalo, where he hit 126 home runs on US soil and more in Japan. He hit 47 more in 2012 and 2013. Still, that didn't get him there.

His third time through is most likely going to arrive when his pupils take the big guy's teachings up to the big leagues.

Tags: Analysis, Val Pascucci, Toby Hyde

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 DC, including more on Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, O's reliever Brad Brach, and if the Mets should trade with the Royals...

Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

Sep 25, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Jay Bruce (19) hits a single during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
		  (Anthony Gruppuso)
Sep 25, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Jay Bruce (19) hits a single during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

Dec 5 | 3:50 PM

The Mets have been in contact with the Orioles about a potential trade of Curtis Granderson or Jay Brucereports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Earlier today, a source told ESPN.com's Adam Rubin that the Orioles recently rejected Sandy Alderson's efforts to trade Bruce for a high-end reliever.

According to Rosenthal, the Mets may be targeting O's right-handed reliever Brad Brach, who had two saves and a 2.05 ERA (2.92 FIP), while striking out 92 batters during 74 innings last season.

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce
Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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. 

Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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!

Read More

 (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
Read More

 (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
Read More

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
Read More

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.

Read More

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
Read More

 (Steve Mitchell)
(Steve Mitchell)

Mets pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL on Feb. 12, the team announced Thursday.

Position players are required to report by Feb. 17.

Earlier this month, the Mets today their official 2017 Spring Training Grapefruit League schedule, which begins Friday, February 24 against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, FL

Read More

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.

Read More

New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) during spring training at Tradition Field. (Brad Barr)
New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) during spring training at Tradition Field. (Brad Barr)

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
Read More

 (Rick Osentoski)
(Rick Osentoski)

The Mets have trade RHP Logan Verrett to the Orioles for cash considerations, the team announced.

The trade frees up a 40-man roster spot for recently re-signed OF Yoenis Cespedes.

Verrett, 26, had a 5.20 ERA and 1.56 WHIP while striking out 66 batters in 91 2/3 innings (12 starts, 23 relief appearances) for the Mets last season.

He had a 3.03 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 38 2/3 innings for the Mets in 2015.

Tags: Logan Verrett

Sandy Alderson (left) talks with Wilpon at Citi Field (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandy Alderson (left) talks with Wilpon at Citi Field (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

According to multiple sources and reports, the Mets want to keep their Opening Day payroll around $140 million, which would leave money in reserve for mid-season acquisitions.

However, their current projected payroll already sits around $145 million when including upcoming raises, players under contract and after bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker.

At the same time, the Mets will likely save on part of Jeurys Familia's estimated $8.5 million salary, because they don't have to pay him during a potential suspension. Also, trading away Jay Bruce's $13 million would free up additional money.

Read More
Login with Facebook Login with Twitter Login with SNY.tv