We’ve all read and heard the praise of the Mets young starting pitchers, but not enough has been said regarding the arms in the bullpen. The Mets have quietly put together a young core, that has become a force, late in ballgames.
Sandy Alderson’s goal all along was to build this team around their pitching, and in 2014, that goal is becoming a reality. The starting rotation is stock full with young pitchers such as Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and Jacob deGrom. Now add in future pieces Noah Syndergarrd, Rafael Montero, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, who will return from his Tommy John surgery next season, and you have an abundance of arms to build your rotation around.
When you look back on playoff team success in recent years, there is always a common trait, a shutdown bullpen. It isn’t always the dominant offenses, but rather the teams that are able to shut down games by the 7th inning, that make deep runs. That is what the Mets are looking to put together. When closer Bobby Parnell went down, a major concern remained as to who the Mets would use to finish off ballgames. However, the combination of Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, has stepped up and answered that question.
- Josh Edgin (27) 25 GP – 1.76 ERA
- Vic Black (26) 22 GP – 1.77 ERA 1.77 ERA
- Jeurys Familia (24) 44 GP – 2.11 ERA
- Jenrry Mejia (24) 25 GP – 2.42 ERA – 9 SV
Lucas Duda has recently been seeing more time at first base, his natural position, rather than left field. This decision has reportedly been made solely by Triple-A manager Wally Backman, not from the front office. It’s no secret that Duda never felt comfortable in the outfield, as he could turn even the most routine of fly balls into an adventure. His bat is what got him in the majors in the first place, but he hasn’t fulfilled that power potential, and without that, he have to be a more than capable defensive fielder.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Duda spoke candidly about his defense:
“You know what you’re going to get with me out there,” Duda remarked “I’m a better first baseman. It’s clear to see. Anybody can see it.”
Duda went on to discuss his feelings about playing outfield.
“I did feel a little bit of added pressure because of my lack of defensive capability,” he said.
He later went on to say this about the position he would most like to play going forward: “I like DHing. That’s a position, too.”
Only one problem Lucas, THERE IS NO DH IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE. This is a very telling sign that Duda is not going to have a spot with this team in the years to come. We have seen flashes of his power, but has not hit on enough of a consistent basis to make up for his lack of defense ability. The move to first base makes sense, with Duda looking more comfortable there. But, Ike Davis has been playing better as of late and Josh Satin has earned his spot on this roster, causing a logjam at first base ahead of him.
Terry Collins recently told reporters he credited the defense as the reason the Mets have played much better in the last several weeks. That was reference to the solid play outfield play he has been getting out of Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagres and Marlon Byrd. There play has given the Mets the best defensive outfield they have had play together in quite some time. To me, that was a very telling sign that will be no room for players like Duda as long as Terry Collins is the manager. The Mets are building this team around their starting pitching, which will make defensive players all the more valuable on this roster.
I expect Sandy Alderson to look into trading Duda during the off-season. Now, Duda won’t have any real value by himself, but maybe if he is included in the right package he can help address one of the Mets other needs. If you the Mets can find an American League team, as Duda is right, he is best suited to be a DH, they may take a chance on him to see if a change of scenery will help get the most out of his bat.
In less than two months Eric Young Jr. has made himself a favorite among Mets fans. He plays with a dynamic of speed and hustle that this team has sorely missed and it has been fun to watch. Coming into the season, the outfield was the biggest question mark defensively and no one knew who was going to bat lead off, Young has become the answer to both of those problems.
The Mets traded pitcher Collin McHugh for the 28-year-old outfielder in the middle of June after the Rockies had designated Young for assignment. Young had become the odd man out in the Rockies outfield rotation and came into a great situation where the Mets had no set outfield whatsoever upon his arrival. He has taken the opportunity that he was given and ran with it. Since joining the Mets Young is hitting .271 with 15 stolen bases and 46 hits in just 40 games.
You can’t help but enjoy the play you are getting from Young, Juan Lagares and Marlon Byrd in the outfield as of late. The defense we have been seeing out of these three makes me never want to suffer through watching Lucas Duda track down a fly ball again. There’s three have solidified the Mets have outfield and finally given Terry Collins a group he can pencil into the line up everyday.
Last night Young made a tremendous diving catch in the sixth inning with two outs to save a few runs in a crucial part of the game. Later he went on to score what would be the winning run on a hustle play as he scored from second base on a Lagares infield single. His speed has added a dimension the Mets have not had since Jose Reyes left town. He might not be in the same class of Reyes, in his healthy years, when it comes to stealing bases, but he is certainly capable of stealing his fair share.
Young may have earned the respect of fans across the country with the way he handled himself after the horrific Tim Hudson accident. In what was one of the more gruesome looking injuries you will ever see, Young was there to consult Hudson and have his deepest apologies felt by his family. He was a class act every step of the way from an incident that was nothing more than a case of the wrong place at the wrong time for Tim Hudson.
The final stretch of the season will be an important one for Young. He will certainly be the everyday outfielder as he is receiving a tryout of sorts to see if he could be a piece of this teams future. It’s players that possess Young’s character and hustle that I want this team to load up on. Plus he also has the best at bat music on the team, “Forever Young” gets me every time he steps to the plate. I hope he can continue to play at this level and sticks with the Mets going forward.
With the trade deadline quickly approaching, one can’t help but wonder what the Mets will do with Marlon Byrd come July 31. Byrd, has turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the season, as he is producing well beyond anyone’s expectations. With the team in rebuilding mode, Sandy Alderson will have to decide what to do with the veteran outfielder. The question is, should the Mets ride out his success the rest of the way or trade him in hopes of attracting a piece for the future?
In 2011, Alderson traded Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants at the deadline for Zack Wheeler. Although Beltran produced for the Giants, they were unable to make the postseason and the Mets in return received a highly touted starting pitcher. Wheeler looks to be a cornerstone piece for the franchise going forward and could be the move Alderson will be remembered most for one day.
I know what you’re probably thinking, “How can you even compare Marlon Byrd to Carlos Beltran as a trade chip?” But let’s have a look at each players numbers leading up to the trade deadline
Carlos Beltran – .289/16/66 in 98 games
Marlon Byrd – .276/17/56 in 82 games
Is it really that far-fetched to think that Byrd could attract a decent return? The key to all of this is of course the demand for a right-handed outfielder. Without a high demand, it is unlikely the Mets will be offered anything of high value. But all it takes is one team, just ONE team, to think they are one hitter away from a playoff push for the Mets to find the perfect match.
Byrd has been tremendous this season. He has given Terry Collins at least one stable outfielder throughout the course of the year to put out there day in and day out. But Byrd is 35-years-old and will be a free agent at the end of the year.There is very little chance the Mets resign him, which increases his odds of being traded. If there is a team out there willing to trade a possible player for the future, especially if it’s a young bat, the Mets have to make the trade.
There have been very little, if any, trade rumors involving Byrd thus far, but look for that to quickly change over the next week or so. It’s not that I want to see Byrd off this team, he’s been a bit of a saving grace for this outfield, it’s about doing what could be best for this team. Byrd, may not be a part of the Mets plan going forward, but he can still contribute if he is able to return a piece for their future.
Last night the Mets completed their first ever season series sweep of the Yankees. It was another stellar starting pitching performance that carried the Mets, Dillon Gee was terrific leading the way to a 3-1 victory.
The night belonged to Gee, who was in complete control all night and threw his best performance of the year. Gee threw 7.1 innings allowing one run with a season high 12 strikeouts. Robinson Cano provided the only blemish on Gee’s night, with a solo shot in the third inning. Other than that, the Yankees were no match. He had everything working last night, his fastball had life on it that I haven’t seen from him all season and Gee really took advantage of last nights big strike zone by working both corners of the plate.
In the second inning, The Mets would get all the scoring they needed with a deep 2-run home run from Marlon Byrd. John Buck gave the Mets a security run in the 8th inning with an infield single that rolled down the third base line that just refused to go foul driving in Omar Quintanilla. It has just been that kind of series for the Mets, every break seemed to be going their way.
Lefty Vidal Nuno started for the Yankees and pitched a very solid game himself. Nuno threw 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits. But the Yankees were unable to get anything going offensively against Gee, besides Cano’s solo home run. Their bats have been asleep this whole series and once again were nowhere to be found despite another quality pitching performance.
The only questionable move of the night was provided by Terry Collins. With one out in the eighth inning, Collins decided to take Gee out of the game in favor of Scott Rice to face Ichiro. This might sound like a routine move for the lefty-lefty match up, but Gee was at just 88 pitches and was in cruise control all night. This move just screamed over managing and seemed like a move his counterpart, Joe Girardi, would have pulled out of his binder. I would have liked to see Gee get the opportunity to at least finish the 8th, if not the game. Nonetheless, Scott Rice retired both batters he faced and Bobby Parnell came on to close the game out with a 1-2-3 inning.
Both teams are going in opposite directions after this series. The Mets will take their 5-game winning streak against the lowly Marlins, while the Yankees look to end their 5-game losing streak again the Red Sox. It’s amazing what a difference a week can make in baseball, The Mets quickly went from an afterthought to the toast of the town. The Yankees have gone from one of the early season surprises in baseball, to a team desperately looking for a spark. Overall, the 2013 subway series belonged to the New York Mets.
Unlike the first two games in this years subway series, we finally had some offense last night. Unfortunately for the Yankees, it came from the Mets. They exploded in the first inning for five runs on their way to a 9-4 win securing that the Mets would win this years series with the Yankees.
Ruben Tejada wasted no time getting things started as he singled to start the game off. Daniel Murphy continued to stay hot as he ripped a double to deep right center to put the Mets on the board. Later in the inning John Buck blooped one into right field to drive Murphy in. After a Marlon Byrd fielder’s choice that brought another run in, Ike Davis hit a much-needed single into left field to make the score 5-0 as the Mets scored more in the first inning than they had in the first two games combined.
David Phelps struggled on the mound for the Yankees, and that’s putting it kindly. Phelps was only able to record one out in the first inning as he simply did not have it last night. Joe Girardi was forced to go to his bullpen very early in hopes of stopping the bleeding. Adam Warren, who has been terrific so far this year, was brought into the game in the third inning but was unable to contain the Mets offense.
Marlon Byrd hit a solo shot for his fifth home run of the year in the third inning off of Warren. Lucas Duda kept the offense rolling with a 2-run double that drove in David Wright and Mike Baxter to make it 8-0 to blow the game wide open for the Mets.
Jeremy Hefner started for the Mets and made it four straight quality starts for this staff. Hefner threw 6 innings while allowing 3 runs with 5 strikeouts on way to earning his first victory of the year.
Brennan Boesch got the Yankees on the board with a solo shot in the fourth inning. They were able to put a bit of a rally together in the sixth inning where they tacked on two more runs after a Jayson Nix single made the score 8-3. But Hefner was able to work out of the jam and keep the Yankees offense at bay.
After tacking on a run in the 9th, the Mets took a 9-3 lead into the ninth inning. The Yankees showed some signs of life after Robinson Cano drove in Brett Garder, but that was all the Yankees could manage making it a 9-4 final.
The Mets have dominated the series so far and look nothing like the team that has been playing these past few weeks. Winning the first three games against the Yankees has provided some much-needed life back into this team and its fan base. The Yankees will look to salvage the final game and avoid being swept in the 2013 subway series tonight.
Coming into this season, The biggest question the Mets were facing was who is going to play in the outfield? So far, it has been a revolving door of 6 outfielders. It has not been a huge spot of weakness so far, but I wouldn’t say it is the teams strength at the same time. Terry Collins has been able to piece things together early on, but sooner or later, more established playing time should be set.
Although I like the idea of open competition, keeping these players on their toes knowing someone is waiting in the wings to take their job at any moment. But these guys need to play on more of an every day basis to get into a grove with one another and see what their full potential truly is. It is still early in the season, but I think we have an idea at the very least of what these places can bring to the table.
So far, only Lucas Duda has been a given in the outfield. He has been a mainstay in left field and he is off to a good start. He has shown signs of why the front office loves his bat, along with driving fans nuts at the same time. Duda, is batting .273 with five home runs and eight RBI on the season. The thing that has people most impressed? His OBP of .475, thanks mostly to his 15 walks. I realize the Mets offensive strategy is to be patient and work the count, but there are times when Duda seems to take that thought process too far. Too many times this season I have seen him put himself in a hole, taking two quick strikes or go down looking at strike three. He is off to a good start and I appreciate his commitment to the team’s strategy, but I think if he jumps at good pitches he sees earlier in the at-bat, he will do more damage at the plate. His OBP is great, it really is, but with him batting 5/6 in the line up, we need him driving in runs, not looking to work the count.
Center field, has had a mix of Collin Cowgill, Jordanny Valdepsin and on occasion, Kirk Nieuwenheis out there. Cowgill, was the teams opening day starter, but that doesn’t mean much. He is hitting just .200 on the year with two home runs and eight RBI. The most alarming stat early on is his .200 OBP, he has yet to draw a walk this season. He is a hard nose player, always giving it the maximum effort each and every time he steps onto the field, with that being said, I think he is better suited to be a back-up/defensive replacement on this team. His swing is too long for my liking, he seems to attempt to hit for power rather than to get on-base, which would be okay, if he weren’t batting lead off. I envision Collins starting to limit Cowgills starts, using him against lefty’s and coming in to play defensive late in games.
Valdespin, is the player who can really run with this position. He is capable of being a dynamic player, he has the ability to hit the ball to all fields and with power. He possesses speed on the base paths, which is something this roster lacks. The one downside, his lack of experience in the outfield. Although he has held his own so far, he still seems to take awkward paths to the ball, this is something he will only learn by playing more. With the current state of this team, I think it is time to let him playing on more of a regular day basis, he will certainly make his mistakes, but that is part of the process. He is the player best suited to bat lead-off for this team.
Nieunwenhis, may very well of won this job out of spring training, had he not been injured. That set-back has really cost him and he seems to be the odd man out in Terry Collins rotation. He has only 16 at-bats on the season with two hits. He might very well be the best defensive player on this roster, as he has been used mostly as a late inning replacement. But there are still questions surrounded his offensive skills. He has shown he is capable of providing some pop in his bat and can hit the ball to all fields, but he strikes out entirely too much. There are rumors that he may be sent down to Triple-A soon, this would probably be the best thing to do with him. This will allow him to play everyday and get more at-bats. I wouldn’t give up on Nieunwenhis just yet, if he can work out the kinks in his swing, he is capable to doing a lot of things on the field that could garner him more playing time in the near future if others begin to struggle.
Right field, has been a mix and match of Marlon Byrd and Mike Baxter. Byrd, is the lone veteran with extensive major league experience in this group. He is attempting to revive his career with the Mets and has been performed okay early on. So far, he has seen the majority of the playing time in right field, batting .259 with 10 RBI. Baxter, has been used as a pitch hitter, along with some starts to give Byrd a day off. He is batting .240, but has a .375 OBP, which is something the Mets have taken note off, his ability to get on base is his biggest strength. It’s time we see just what kind of player Baxter can be, we know he can be a great pitch hitter and occasional start. What we don’t know is if he is capable of playing everyday.
It’s early, but the outfield has been alright so far. I’m looking forward to seeing if Lucas Duda can sustain his early success and be the offensive player many believe he is capable of being. Valdespin, is the biggest wild card on this Mets roster. I would love to see him become the much-needed spark plug this team needs. Right field is where I would most like to see a platoon, I believe that will be the case as the season moves along.