Toby Hyde and Rob Brender are counting down the days until real baseball, and are joined by Casey Stern from MLB Network Radio and Turner Sports for a special 2016 Mets Preview...
Toby Hyde and Rob Brender are closing the book on the offseason by opening up the show to the fans.
Toby and Rob answer mailbag questions about the starting rotation, the farm system, the role of Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler's return, and much more as spring training approaches.
Tags: Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler, Robert Brender, Toby Hyde
Toby Hyde and Rob Brender are celebrating Metspedes, as they dedicate a full episode to the return of Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets.
WFAN's Ed Coleman joins the show to talk about the big news, how it shapes the clubhouse, and a whole new outlook for the 2016 season.
Tags: Yoenis Cespedes, Robert Brender, Toby Hyde
This week's Mostly Mets Podcast was recorded live In Queens during this year's Pitch Talks Mets on Jan. 13.
Toby Hyde and Rob Brender are joined by Matthew Cerrone and Maggie Wiggin for a full discussion about what to do with Yoenis Cespedes, what to expect from David Wright, the look of the pitching staff, the underwhelming offseason and what to expect from the roster in 2016...
Toby Hyde and Rob Brender talk about new Hall of Famer Mike Piazza with Mike's friend, TV and radio host Eddie Trunk.
Eddie shares great stories about Piazza away from the field, including studio sessions, rock shows, Mike's at bat music at Shea Stadium, and everything that went down the time Eddie and Mike leaked new Guns N' Roses music on the radio. Later, Toby and Rob try to figure out Paul DePodesta to the Cleveland Browns.
Toby Hyde and Rob Brender celebrate the holiday season with the final Mostly Mets of 2015. Christmas presents are delivered (Bartolo Colon), others are wished for (Yoenis Cespedes), and New Year's Resolutions are made as the offseason continues towards 2016.
Toby Hyde and Rob Brender recap the last four days of the Winter Meetings in Nashville. The guys discuss the acquisitions of Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker, as well as, some of the other major moves around baseball.
Fulmer, the Mets' supplemental first-round pick in 2011, at No. 44 overall, is the better prospect of this pair. The 22-year-old is?a big guy at 6-foot-3 and 220-plus pounds, who throws hard. However, he's always been a little mechanical in his delivery. His repertoire and his approach starts with the gas.
Mets' left fielders simply have not hit enough. By Fangraphs' wRC+, where 100 is league average, Mets left fielders have combined for 80, 26th in baseball. Only the Reds, Nationals, White Sox and Angels have received worse offensive production from their left fielders. From a larger picture perspective, the Mets have scored 329 runs, the second-worst in baseball, more only than the Chicago White Sox. While the pitching is among baseball's best, the offense has been among the league's worst units.
Moreover, his work in the Pacific Coast League made plain that he is among the organization's top six starters. He is ready to step in and contribute to a major league rotation right now. That's the easy part.
The difficult part was fitting him into a rotation that has been the Mets' strength so far in 2015.?Entering this weekend's play, the Mets' starting rotation had the ninth-best ERA in baseball (3.80) and both the fifth-best FIP (3.49) and collective WAR (7.6).
Then, on May 6, the Gnats swept the Greenville Drive, and began a furious 31-15 close to the first half, sealing Savannah's fifth first-half title in six years.
"Everything starting clicking at that point," manager Jose Leger said of the early-May sweep. "We just started playing better baseball. Guys just gained a lot of confidence. They just kept going and going."
The teams?had to wait to name Wieck because players cannot be traded until one full calendar year after they?are drafted.
Does Wieck's inclusion in the trade tip the balance toward the Padres? Not yet.?To acquire the rights to Torres for almost five years, the Mets traded two guys who might never pitch in the big leagues for five full years.
The Mets promoted 2014 first-round pick, left fielder Michael Conforto from advanced Single-A St. Lucie to Double-A Binghamton, putting him just two steps from the big leagues.?This?is more?significant?than the average minor league promotion from Single to Double-A, because it concerns an area of need on the big league team.
In 46 games with St. Lucie, Conforto hit .283, with a .350 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage, with 12 doubles and seven home runs. At the time of his promotion, he was tied for the league lead in total bases (85) and doubles and was second in slugging, fourth in homers and HR/AB ratio.
The 24-year-old Ceciliani was hitting .336/.381/.584 in 37 games with triple-A Las Vegas this year in his first exposure to the minors' highest level. He was doing so with ordinary walk (7.9%) and strikeout (19.8%) rates but very high numbers on contact (.384 BABIP) and a .248 isolated slugging percentage.
Ceciliani can thank the Pacific Coast League for his impressive-looking numbers to start the year. Both of these last two marks are out of line with his previous minor league career, particularly the isolated slugging. Never in his minor league career has Ceciliani had a BABIP this high in any full season league, although he came close with a .375 mark in advanced-A. His isolated slugging mark is even more anamolous. Throughout his minor league career, he had run isolated slugging numbers between .100 and .130. Now, it's nearly twice that mark in Vegas. This is real in the sense that it has happened, but it does not reflect his new skill level. A picture will help.
Syndergaard arrives in the big leagues pitching the best baseball of his life. In his last three starts in triple-A he was 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA (2 ER/22 IP). His peripherals were just as impressive: 11 hits, 2 walks and 27 strikeouts, for an opponents' batting average of .147 and a strikeout rate of 35%. On its face, based on the raw numbers these numbers are terrific.?However, adjusting for his environment makes his performances even better. His last three starts have been in Las Vegas (twice) and at Albuquerque.?Based on three-year park factors, Albuquerque featured the most runs per game of any park in the Pacific Coast League (or AAA as a whole) while Las Vegas was fourth. Overall, he leaves the PCL fifth in ERA (1.82) and strikeouts (34), second in WHIP (0.94) with the lowest opposing batting average (.192) of any qualified pitcher.
Before Syndergaard's back-to-back seven shutout inning starts on April 27 and May 2, he had never had back-to-back quality starts (defined as 3 runs or fewer in six innings or more) in his half-season in his first 28 starts. The quality start metric is certainly crude, but it serves to capture whether a pitcher is keeping runs off the board and pitching deep into ball games. To some degree, Syndergaard can thank the PCL's hitter-friendly tendency for the lack of quality starts, but the truth is that he was not dominating triple-A in the way one should expect a pitcher who has ace-level potential.
What should Mets fans expect from Plawecki, the Mets' first supplemental first round pick in 2012? A competent, if young, catcher. Put simply, that's a drop from the level at which d'Arnaud had started his?2015 season.
Plawecki's offensive performance in Triple-A is characteristic of what he is likely to produce in the big leagues. In 52 games over the last two years, he has hit .270, with a .325 OBP and .402 SLG in the offense-friendly Pacific Coast League. He's accomplished this with a line drive swing and an aggressive approach paired with a keen plate eye. In Triple-A, Plawecki's strikeout rate was just 12 percent, well below the PCL average of 20 percent. His walk rate of 7.2 percent was below the PCL average of 8.7 percent. Plawecki will attack early count fastballs if he gets something he can handle, rather than hanging around in the count. Once that opportunity passes, he is quite disciplined about swinging only at strikes. However, he will see many fewer hittable early count fastballs in the majors than he ever has at any point in his life. As with any young hitter transitioning to the big leagues, expect Plawecki's walk rate to decline some and his strikeout rate to rise.
1)?RHP Michael Fulmer
The 24-year-old Robles was off to a terrific start for Triple-A Las Vegas. In 7 2/3 innings over five outings, he had not allowed a run, while striking out 10 batters and walking one of the 30 opposing hitters he had faced. Two of the six hits he had allowed were doubles, but he had not allowed a hit to lefties in nine at-bats.
The Mets moved Robles out of the Double-A starting rotation in 2014 and into the bullpen at midseason, and his results have been excellent ever since.
CF Ricardo CespedesBats/Throws:?L/L
Out in the desert, Wally Backman and pitching coach Frank Viola have an interesting roster to work with complete with players who should be contributing to the Mets in 2015.
StartersNoah Syndergaard Steven Matz Matt Bowman Tyler Pill Darin Gorski
StartersGabriel Ynoa Michael Fulmer Luis Cessa Rainy Lara John Michael Gant
This is the second-most interesting rotation in the system after the Noah Syndergaard/Steven Matz combo in triple-A.
OutfieldMichael Conforto Champ Stuart Maikis De La Cruz Victor Cruzado
Conforto, the Mets? 2014 first-round draft pick, is the big name here. The 22-year-old is a strong prospect; I have him ranked in the team?s top 10, as the fifth-best position player prospect and the second-best outfield prospect, trailing only Brandon Nimmo. He?s also at an age where he belongs, without question, in the FSL since the Mets took it slow with him last year. In 2014, Conforto spent had a strong enough debut with Brooklyn and joined Savannah for the playoffs. A polished college hitter, Conforto did not need to spend time with Savannah during the 2015 regular season. This assignment is not a surprise.
Wuilmer Becerra, Casey Meisner and Luis Guillorme will be carrying the prospect torch on this team.
OutfieldersWuilmer BecerraPatrick BiondiVincente LupoJohn MoraStefan Sabol
As a headline, fan and player favorite Wally Backman is back for this third season in Triple-A. Backman's players love him and play hard for him. It is still unclear if he has the skills required of successful big league managers including, but not limited to: interfacing with the front office and integrating technical information into a game plan, managing a pitching staff, particularly a bullpen, and performing the daily media relations act with the New York media.
Backman will be joined in the 51s' dugout by Frank Viola, who had a tumultuous 2014 in his first season with Vegas. Viola lost both of his parents in the winter and had open heart surgery that sidelined him for most of the first half of the season while he recuperated. When he returned, he was himself, boisterous, effective, but perhaps with a broader perspective. His own health scare prompted him to attempt to live a little healthier. Viola is a terrific pitching coach who quickly earns the trust of his pitchers, and can diagnose issues, and offer suggestions to improvements for pitchers of all types. It seems like only a matter of time until he picks up a big league job.
The Mets promoted Luis Rojas from Savannah, where he had managed for three seasons, to St. Lucie to be the team's manager. Although the Gnats won a SAL championship in 2013 (In part thanks to the post-season dominance of Steven Matz and Gabriel Ynoa) and make the postseason in 2013, records are a poor way to evaluate the efficacy of a minor league manager. The much more important question is whether the manager works hard, and induces his players to work hard for him through good times and bad. Rojas, the son of Felipe Alou gets it. The bi-lingual skipper was both a calming and firm force with his players. He had his emotional moments in disputes with umps, or elation over a championship, but his pitch and feel for the game are superb. I've worked with Rojas for four seasons in Savannah, and can say clearly he made my job easier. He always had a good explanation for what was going on the field, and why he made one decision over another. For a great example of his ability to discuss the game, and his preparation, take a look at his comments from one of my favorite plays of 2014, when Champ Stuart scored from second base on a sacrifice fly.
Joining Rojas in St. Lucie will be pitching coach Phil Regan, back for his seventh season at the level and hitting coach Joel Fuentes for his second year. Regan has a reputation within the organization as a technician who is strong on pitching mechanics. Fuentes talked about making a tweak in Dilson Herrera's swing here.
The sheer number of right-handed pitchers in a system means that ordering this group helps give structure to an overall system?s ranking. However, this year, for the Mets, this is much less true than in years past, at least at the top. I have only three right-handed pitchers in the team?s overall Top 10 and five in the Top 20. The right-handers flex their muscle in the back half of my Top 41, taking over 50% of the spots between 21 and 41 at last count.
The relative weakness of the right-handed pitchers in the organization is balanced by a strong big league rotation and upper level options (Hi, Thor). Likely lurking at triple-A to start 2015 will be Noah Syndergaard, who is an elite prospect and Rafael Montero, who could probably be a back-end starter now if the team needed big league innings.
The Rays wanted Noah Syndergaard, the Mets top prospect and one of two more "top" prospects. Desmond is signed for 2015 and then can become a free agent. Before the 2014 season, he turned down a seven-year, $107 million contract offer from the Nationals that would have covered his final two years of arbitration and his first five years of free agency. Instead, he and the Nationals came to terms on a two-year $17.5 million deal for 2014 and 2015. So, entering the 2014 season, Desmond valued his free agent years at over five years and $90 million or $18 million annually. After a 4.1 fWAR 2014, his age 28 season, which was second-best among MLB shortstops, and his third-straight year above 4 fWAR, he has helped his value.
It stands to reason that the Mets were not willing to trade Syndergaard and a second top prospect (perhaps Steven Matz or Brandon Nimmo) for one year of Desmond. However, teams, the Mets included, can trade for a player with the intention of signing him to a longterm extension. The Mets did this in the winter of 2008, of course, with Johan Santana. Even further back, the Mets acquired Mike Piazza, only to later work out an extension with the slugging catcher. Analyzing the wisdom of such a trade and sign is difficult without knowing the precise prospects or money involved. However, it is likely such a move would pay dividends in terms of an improved team on the field in 2015.
One of the things that becomes quite clear reading the list is that McDaniel has seen relatively few of these players in person in the last few years. Rather, like Baseball America, he is relying on what sources tell him for the list. The result is that I end up diverging from these assessments where they do not match what I have seen in person. (In my own Top 41, I think I have seen all but four players live in the last two years or at spring training, and three of those players were drafted in 2014.)
Let's revisit our tool, the composite Top Prospects list:
Here's the Baseball America list of the Top 10 Mets Prospects:
Teams pick in reverse order of their overall records from last season, the same order they will use come June in the amateur draft. Any player not on a MLB 40-man roster is eligible to be drafted as long as he meets one of these two requirements: this is his fifth Rule 5 draft and he signed his first professional contract at age 18 or younger OR this is his fourth Rule 5 draft and he signed his first professional contract at 19 or older.
Any player who is picked in the Major League phase of the draft, must remain on his new team's active roster for at least 90 days, or be offered back to his original team.
General Manager Sandy Alderson's recent endorsement of Wilmer Flores as the Mets' Opening Day starter merely said that it was?a "likelihood" that Flores would start. As endorsements go, that's weak. Manager Terry Collins refused to even go that far on Monday.
Flores hit .251, with a .286 OBP and .378 SLG in 78 games with the Mets in 2014, good for a 88 wRC+ (where 100 is average), in the season in which he turned 23-years-old. Partial season defensive numbers are extremely unreliable and split on Flores: while he was worth +4.0 runs by Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), he was worth -3 runs by Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). To be clear, I think Flores can hit at the big league level, although I don't know where he will play defensively, and I do not think he can play shortstop everyday.
Thursday was the deadline for teams to finalize their rosters for the Rule 5 draft which will take place on the final day of the winter meetings in Anaheim. The Mets pursued a similar strategy as they have under Sandy Alderson in protecting nearly any pitcher they could who has a chance to provide big league -- possibly bullpen -- value in the next two years.
This strategy, of erring on the side of adding an extra arm or two, perhaps creates extra churn at the back end of the 40-man roster. For example, the Mets added Hansel Robles in 2012 after a nice season with short-season Single-A Brooklyn. He was removed after an injury-marred and ineffective 2013, and earned his way back on with a good 2014 in the bullpen.
It's important to remember a few things while looking at the results that each guy put up in the league:
The acquisition also means the Mets must?forfeit their 2015 first-round draft pick (No. 15 overall), because the Rockies made a Qualifying Offer to Cuddyer.
The?Mets are closer to contention than many people realize, so giving up the pick and signing Cuddyer makes sense. They needed to upgrade their corner outfield position and,?as Sandy Alderson said during a conference call Tuesday,?adding an outfielder was of the "highest priority."
The Top Ten
At the big league level, center field is not an area of need. Following Juan Lagares? Gold Glove win on Tuesday night, the rest of baseball recognized and made official what Mets fans already knew: Lagares is a sublime defender. A league average hitter in 2014, Lagares provided roughly double the value (always use ?rough? when talking about single year defensive estimates) with his glove as with his bat on his way to becoming, by fWAR, the Mets? most valuable position player.
As with most of our positions so far, really all but shortstop, there?s a clear top prospect at the position. This time it's 2014 first-round pick Michael Conforto. This is one of the thinnest areas in the Mets? system, a problem exacerbated by the fact that teams must play two corner?outfielders per game.
Corner outfield remains an area of need for the Mets. Despite the addition of Curtis Granderson last winter, by Fangraph?s WAR, Mets? cornermen ranked 18th?in baseball at 3.1 total WAR contributed.
He's playing, and hitting. His .300 batting average was fifth in the New York-Penn League in 2014. His 20 doubles were tied for second. His 122 total bases were third. The counting stats overstate his case a little as he was the the NYP leader in games played (75) and at bats (283). Even that though is something Urena can be proud of: he played in all but one of the Cyclones' games and was the only player on the circuit to play in more than 71 games and pick up more than 283 at bats. Durability is a good thing, and at age 19, Urena played everyday for almost three months.
As Cyclones hitting coach Benny diStefano said, "The bottom line is, this kid has a lot of ability."
In the last decade, developing a third baseman has been an extremely low priority for the Mets, who are?blessed with David Wright, one of the organization's all-time greats, at the position nearly every day. Now 31, and coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, one marred by a lingering shoulder injury, and signed through 2020, the Mets must count on a big bounceback from their Captain.
If Wright does get hurt again in 2015, the current roster offers Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores (as long as he's not playing shortstop) as two potential fill-ins. Who else is there for the longer term?
"Second base prospect" is a funny term. By definition, all second basemen would be more valuable at shortstop, but for one reason or another, they are not everyday shortstops. Meanwhile, second base itself is a plenty demanding position in its own right.
Looks around the minors at first base can be a funny exercise. Many MLB first basemen begin their careers at third base, behind the plate or even at shortstop. Last year, the first base list for the Mets was Dominic Smith and everyone else. In 2014, it's still Smith and everyone else.
Catcher, is for the first time in some time, not a major concern for the Mets. Travis d'Arnaud, after his early-season struggles, and his get-right session in Las Vegas produced the best season by a Mets catcher in years. His 105 wRC+ was the best for a Mets' backstop since Josh Thole's 103 in 2010, although that covered under 300 plate appearances. The last Mets backstop to match d'Arnaud's?105 wRC+ was Ramon Castro (126) in 157 PA in 2007. Counting playing time, the last Mets' backstop to achieve a 105 wRC+, in at least 400 PA was Paul Lo Duca in 2006.
However, d'Aranud has been injury-prone in the last few seasons, and his 2014 ended early with surgery needed for bone chips in his elbow. Catchers take such a physical beating that depth is particularly important.
Matz, one of the top pitching prospects in the Mets' organization did not just start both, he was dominant -- twice. For?Savannah in 2013, the southpaw shut out a solid Hagerstown offense through 5 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts, while allowing only one runner to third, and that came in an inning with a pair of infield basehits. For?Binghamton in 2014, working against Richmond, Matz took a no-hitter, with 11 strikeouts into the eighth inning in a 1-0 game. However, after a pair of hits, he bequeathed two runners to Hansel Robles, who allowed one to score.
Matz's two start "Clinching Game" combined line is the stuff makes fans drool: 0.69 ERA, 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 20 K. He struck out 41 percent of opposing batters in these two starts and walked 8 percent.
Instructs are a funny beast, they have practice and games, like spring training, but the vibe is different. In spring training, the focus is on getting better for the season to come. Spring training has everyone in the organization. Here, with just a few exceptions, the players are restricted to those who will being 2015 in advanced Single-A and below. Thus, with a smaller group, the top lower-level prospects have more time for one-on-one instruction with the team's coaches and coordinators. Skill development is the priority over competition.
Instructional league inclues just six games for young Mets farmhands in the 12 days from September 22 through October 3.?All games are scheduled for 1 p.m..