Thursday’s Arizona Fall League recap…
It was a big day for Mets SS prospect Matt Reynolds, who led off the game Thursday with his second AFL homer and later singled.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma native is batting .242 in nine games in Arizona, with five extra base hits.
Read more at SNY’s Mets Minors…
The Mets announced Thursday that they have hired Kevin Long to be their new hitting coach.
Long, 47, who the Mets interviewed on Wednesday, was fired by the Yankees after the season after spending eight years as the hitting coach in the Bronx.
In a press release, general manager Sandy Alderson called the hiring of Long a “positive step” for the Mets while saying that Long’s “experience, success and wealth of knowledge make him the perfect fit.”
Long said that he is “excited to get the opportunity” to work with a team he believes is “on the rise.”
Weighing in on the hire, Mets manager Terry Collins said that there were “a couple of other names on the list” but that the team had to move quickly on Long because “there were a lot of teams” interested in him (Puma, Oct.23).
Prior to hiring Long, other hitting coach candidates the Mets had been linked to included Bobby Abreu, Edgardo Alfonzo, Dave Magadan, and Val Pascucci.
The Mets have named Dustin Clarke the new Major League Strength and Conditioning coach.
Clarke worked in the same capacity for Triple-A Las Vegas last season after working with Double-A Binghamton from 2012-2013 and with the Gulf Coast Mets in 2011.
Prior to joining the Mets organization, Clarke worked with the football team at the University of Michigan. He has also worked at Lafayette College and Drexel University.
Earlier this offseason, the Mets hired Mike Barwis to oversee the fitness strategy for the entire organization.
The Cubs, D-Backs, Red Sox and Reds match up best for a trade with the Mets, according to researcher and writer Mark Simon (ESPN, Oct. 16).
For instance, Simon explains, the Cubs have have shortstops Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Addison Russell and they are in need of young starting pitchers; while the Red Sox and Reds have outfielders to deal, such as Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce.
Ben Berkon: Bruce has been one of the best home run hitters in the National League since 2008. In fact, from 2011 to 2013, the left-handed hitter averaged 32 home runs per season. Yet, his 2014 campaign was worrisome, during which he posted a mere .217 batting average, park-adjusted 79 wRC+, and 18 home runs, marking the worst year of his career.
Despite swatting 182 career home runs, the 27-year-old has still only managed a 117 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Also, Bruce has been a significantly better hitter at the batter-friendly Great American Ballpark than he has on the road.
In other words, the slugger’s career to date hasn’t been particularly elite, according to Run Expectancy Wins (REW) >> Click for more details.
REW is defined by FanGraphs as: “The difference in run expectancy (RE) between the start of the play and the end of the play [but converted to wins].”
Here is how Bruce stacks up in this department:
Essentially, Bruce’s peripherals expose him as more of a good home-run hitter than a good hitter.
The outfielder’s production may have also been affected by his starkly fading ability to hit opposite-field home runs. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, in 2013, Bruce hit just six of his 30 home runs to the opposite field. In 2014, he launched zero.
Bruce would certainly improve Sandy Alderson’s offense — and his young age and reasonable contract should make him an attractive target. But, in no way should the Mets hemorrhage their farm system for a player whose sole ability has been to pull home runs, and do little else with the stick.
Ben Berkon’s work has been published on Huffington Post, Bleacher Report, Medium’s ‘The Cauldron,’ and various other mainstream sites. Make sure to follow him @BenBerkon
Juan Lagares has been named a Rawlings Gold Glove finalist for National League centerfielders.
Lagares is up against the Reds’ Billy Hamilton and the Nationals’ Denard Span for the award.
Lagares could become the third Mets outfielder to earn a Rawlings Gold Glove, joining Tommie Agee (1970) and Carlos Beltran (2006-2008), the Mets said (Twitter, Oct. 22).
No other Mets players were named finalists at any position.
The winners will be announced on November 4.
Brian P. Mangan (MetsBlog Contributor): Mets OF Juan Lagares was the ninth-most valuable player in all of baseball through August (fourth in the National League).
“He might be the best center fielder in the National League,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said (Knobler, Aug. 27).
Lagares will have to start hitting better if he wants to put himself into any kind of MVP conversation, but his historic defensive performance probably makes it a lot closer than people realize… and a lot of fun to talk about. >> Read more…
Matthew Cerrone: In today’s Daily News, Andy Martino says, while Sandy Alderson will continue to try and trade for another team’s elite outfielder, the Mets are more likely to surround their core of pitchers with a lineup filled of “veteran, versatile or otherwise interchangeable pieces,” similar to the Rays (Daily News, Oct. 23).
This should sound familiar, since I have essentially written the same thing each of the last two winters.
“I think Sandy Alderson believes in having a young, under-team-control core, with David Wright as their expensive leader, all of whom are supported each season by a constant rotation of mercenaries acquired by trade or signed to very short-term, affordable contracts that can be easily discarded and replaced if they’re not working out,” I first wrote in a post called Wins over faces in 2012 (MetsBlog, Dec. 2012). “Oakland A’s fans are very used to this. … The Rays are doing this well, too. … I get the feeling Alderson believes winning (regardless of who you do it with and how much you spend on it) trumps any one player, regardless of how you and I feel about those players. And, maybe, what we’ve been watching here the last few seasons (at the expense of short-term success) is Alderson’s transition to his model from Omar Minaya’s model.”
This, plus being provided an average budget, is why I continue to believe Alderson intends to play this off season much like he played last winter, assuming he can trade away a couple of under-contract players to help free up extra capital.
“I just can’t see him going the extra mile to sign, say, Melky Cabrera, or Cuban OF Yasmany Tomas,” I wrote last week (MetsBlog, Oct. 14). “Instead, I bet the Mets look to do something similar to what they did last winter, signing one player to a more substantial deal (as they did with Curtis Granderson), while making a bet along the lines of a last year’s one-year, $7 million deal with Chris Young.”
I also indicated a belief in Alderson’s desire to keep his top pitching prospects, instead maybe dealing Dillon Gee to free up money, as well as trading mid-level pitching prospect for a mid-level infield prospect that can simply add depth in Spring Training, while protecting the top of his rotation (MetsBlog, Oct. 14).
Martino crystalizes this in his report today, adding, “It’s not that the Mets refuse to trade any of their pitchers not named Gee, Niese or Bartolo Colon; it’s just that they are highly reluctant.”
If I had to bet, I’d say the Mets try to package Gee, Montero and a young hitter, maybe Kevin Plawecki, and see where that gets them. It’s a good package. It can probably get them close to Red Sox OF Yoenis Cespedes, though another team may need to be involved. It can probably open a door for conversations in Colorado. If it gets them no place, they continue down the mercenary route. But, I think they’ll have options, which is what should make this an entertaining (and hopefully surprising) winter.
The Mets will have interest in free-agent OF Michael Cuddyer, so long as he’ll take a two-year deal, according to people familiar with the team’s thinking (Martino, Oct. 22).
MLB Trade Rumors recently predicted Cuddyer would eventually sign a two-year, $22 million contract (MLBTR, Oct. 17).
Matthew Cerrone: His market will be interesting. I’ve heard the Yankees, Astros, Pirates, Brewers and Marlins will have interest, in addition to the Mets. I’m sure there will be others, not to mention the fact that he seems to love playing in Colorado. So, there will be demand. At the same time, there are other guys in his bracket and lots of concern about how many games Cuddyer has missed the last few years. Also, he’ll be 36 next season.
I like MLBTR’s prediction, which should put the Mets in the conversation. In the end, I still think Cuddyer makes the most sense for the Mets. It’s also worth noting he’s good friends with David Wright, which can’t be a bad thing when considering a move to Queens.
Maggie Wiggin, Oct. 21: Cuddyer is a potentially promising free-agent target. While there is plenty of debate to be had about his injury history and probable contract to warrant its own post, it’s reasonable to consider a scenario in which Cuddyer, who can still produce well against right-handed pitching, plays right field most of the time and slots into first base against tougher lefties. This arrangement (which also assumes Curtis Granderson moves to left, where his defense plays better) would likely result in excellent production from first base and, at worst, league-average production from right field, which would still be a marked improvement from the offensive struggles of the 2014 outfield >> Read more.
Ben Berkon, Oct. 2: Cuddyer’s past three seasons in hitter-friendly Colorado shouldn’t deter the Mets since he’s owned a 118 wRC+ on the road since 2012, per FanGraphs.com. … Cuddyer’s production in left field for the Mets could roughly be worth 1.59 fWAR (using the 5/3/2 approach), assuming he notches 380 plate appearances (or a 2.51 fWAR if Cuddyer accumulates 600 plate appearances) in 2015 >> Read more.
To see the full list of potential free agents, read this list on Baseball Prospectus.