Opinion: Lucas Duda is two-thirds the player the Mets need him to be

berkonavatarsmallBen Berkon, Contributor to MetsBlog.com:

Lucas Duda has exceeded expectations since Ike Davis was traded to the Pirates in May. To date, the 28-year-old Duda has an 11.8 percent walk rate with 22 home runs spanning 450 plate appearances, as well as a park-adjusted 136 wRC+. The notoriously poor fielder has even looked more nimble at first base, gloving an impressive 6 Defensive Runs Saved in 926 innings.

Yet, with Duda’s sole possession of first base, his extreme vulnerability against left-handed pitching has only become more apparent. The left-handed hitter has accumulated a pathetic .156 batting average and 39 wRC+ with just one home run over 87 plate appearances this season against southpaws.

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

Need to Know: wRC+ is park and league-adjusted, allowing a comparison of players who played in different years, parks, and leagues,” according to FanGraphs.com. “League average wRC+ for position players is always 100. If a player has a 110 wRC+, they are 10 percentage points better than league average offensively.”

Duda’s stark weakness isn’t anything new, however. In fact, he has struggled at the major-league level against lefties since 2010, owning a .210 batting average and 74 wRC+ over 431 career plate appearances.

Considering the dire need to improve the team’s overall 88 wRC+ (tied for 24th in the league) and 92 home runs (tied for 26th in the league), the Mets can’t afford to wait for Duda to overcome this flaw. And while the team’s voids at shortstop and left field are certainly more marked, Mets GM Sandy Alderson must also look into acquiring a right-handed hitting platoon with Duda for 2015.

The obvious and most immediate solution would be signing free-agent Michael Cuddyer

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Kids Want to Know Q&A with Kevin Burkhardt, pres. by Chevy Youth Baseball

To spotlight the Chevy Youth Baseball program, which is entering its fourth year, SNY visited participating youth baseball teams and asked kids what they want to know about Kevin Burkhardt:

Chevrolet Youth Baseball_vertical_CMYK

Max, Age: 11: What was your favorite team growing up as a kid?

Kevin: My favorite team was the Mets!

Delakwa, Age: 11: Who is your favorite Met?

Kevin: It was Darryl Strawberry growing up.

Ryan, Age: 11: Who is your favorite MLB player?

Kevin: Thats a tough question, Ryan. I like watching a lot of players. I love watching Juan Lagares play CF.

Matthew, Age: 11: What is your favorite ballpark?

Kevin: I have a few of them, but my top 3 are AT&T Park, Petco Park, and Wrigley Field.

Andrew, Age: 11: What is your favorite part of being a broadcaster?

Kevin: My favorite part of being a broadcaster is going to work everyday at the ballpark! I enjoy getting to know the players, and being able to tell stories about them on the air.

Alex, Age: 11: What is the most interesting thing that you have seen in your travels?

Kevin: That is a great question Alex! I like to go to different cities and see the sights when I can. During a game, the most interesting thing probably was kayaking in McCovey Cove back in 2007. There were so many people out on the water with barbeque grills and TVs just waiting to catch a Barry Bonds homerun. It was certainly unique.

Chevy Youth Baseball is a grassroots initiative that establishes a positive relationship between the New York Area Chevrolet Dealers and the communities they serve. The program provides assistance to 65 leagues by contributing over $100,000 in monetary and equipment donations.

Wheeler is pitching a lot, with good results, but looking fatigued

In his last six starts, Zack Wheeler is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings, during which opponents are batting .215 against him.

Wheeler Pre Game

He picked up his ninth win of the season Wednesday against the A’s, despite being charged with four runs (two earned) and four hits, while walking four and striking out three, in 5 2/3 innings.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Yet again, he looked like he was struggling to find his ‘best stuff,’ which I’m sure wasn’t helped by coming off a 120-pitch outing with less rest than usual rest in his last start. Nevertheless, he stayed relaxed, didn’t come undone, and he settled down after getting a bit rattled mid-outing. That said, I’m glad Terry took him out…

Look, the Mets are not making playoffs. I realize Wheeler isn’t on a strict innings-limit this season, but he’s still young and he’s been laboring these last 8-10 starts, often throwing a lot of pitches, in tough spots, and working through games without his best stuff. They are ‘stressful innings,’ as they say. And, if there is a way to limit his work a bit, the Mets should probably do it, considering his delivery and workload, and given what we now know about arm stress, pitching with fatigue and injury.

What to make of Eric Campbell?

Eric Campbell was 2 for 3 with a solo home run during Wednesday’s game against the A’s in Oakland.

Campbell, 27, is batting .301 with a .348 OBP, three home runs and 15 RBI in 61 games with the Mets this season, during which has played all four infield positions, as well as left and right field.


Campbell was drafted by the Mets in the 8th round of the 2008 amateur draft and got his first bit-league at bat earlier this year.

He’s batting .324 in the 29 games he has started, during which he’s hit all three of his home runs.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I’m not sure what to make of Campbell. He has a very compact swing with not a lot of torque, so I don’t think he’s ever going to be the type of power hitter that his size and stature suggest he should be. I really like how he stays back on the ball and flicks pitches to right field, but I just don’t see him as a power guy. So, I’m not sure how he fits in, given this team’s overall needs. That said, no doubt, the guy can hit enough and should be on the roster. It would be great if he could end up being more, but my hunch is he’s best used as a super-utility guy, platoon-mate at first base and/or pinch hitter .

Riding Shotgun with Vic Black, presented by Verizon

Matt Cerrone takes the 7 train with Mets reliever Vic Black, where they talk about New York City, music, the Mets, and more in the latest installment of Riding Shotgun, presented by Verizon.


Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson

There is more to a manager than wins and losses

There is more to judging a manager than wins and losses, Sandy Alderson told WOR radio before Wednesday’s game.

“It’s how the team approaches each game and how it conducts itself over the course of an entire season,” Alderson said. “All those things are important.”

According to multiple reports in early August, Terry Collins will very likely return to manage the Mets in 2015, assuming they don’t totally fall apart before the end of the season (MetsBlog, Aug. 13).

The Mets first signed Collins to a two-year deal in late 2010, his option was picked up for 2013, after which he signed a two-year extension, which includes a team option for 2016.

miniMCavatarMatthew Cerrone: I don’t fully understand why he’s a lock to be back, even if the team finishes slightly below .500. But, I’m OK with the decision, as long as Alderson keeps an open mind as next year gets rolling >> Read more from August 14.

Rolling Stone: A day in the life of Mr. Met

Mr. Met, whose notoriety eclipses that of many players who have worn his team’s uniform, is profiled in Rolling Stone this week.

He lives in Citi Field with Mrs. Met and their three kids, his gameday duties end after the 7th inning and he often does daytime events around the Tri-State Area, even on game days >> Read more at Rolling Stone.

Bartolo Colon hasn’t been put on waivers

The Mets have still not put Bartolo Colon through waivers, according to reporter Joel Sherman (NY Post, Aug. 21).

Multiple reports have speculated the Angels could have renewed interest in Colon, since losing Garrett Richards (13-4, 2.53 ERA) to an apparent season-ending leg injury.

Colon Horizontal

The Mets listened to offers for Colon prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but reports indicated he was more likely to get dealt during August, if he is to be traded at all (NY Post, July 31).

Teams turned away from Colon in July because of his age, body shape, history with steroids, and Sandy Alderson’s reluctance to pay a portion of the $11 million due to him in 2015, Sherman once told MLB Network. Instead, he said the Mets may look to move Colon this winter when, with one year and $11 million on his deal, he’ll be more valuable compared to comparable starting pitchers getting significantly more money on the open market.

If Colon is put on waivers, and a team claims him, the Mets can dump the contract on that team, work out a trade, or pull him back — which would make him ineligible to be dealt again this season. If Colon were to clear waivers, he can be freely dealt at any time.

The Orioles (CBS Sports, July 31), Royals (Daily News, July 30), Blue Jays, Mariners and Dodgers were said to have interest in acquiring Colon at different points earlier this summer.

berkonBen Berkon: Colon, 41, has pitched notably well for the Mets in 2014, posting a 3.85 ERA (versus a 3.40 FIP and park-adjusted 3.61 xFIP) over 161 1/3 innings. With under $13 million remaining on his contract through 2015, the right-hander would be an attractive addition to just about any team’s rotation.  But that doesn’t mean the Mets should actually trade Colon this offseason >> Read more from Aug. 20.

Jeurys Familia handled the eighth, also got his fourth save

Jeurys Familia relieved Vic Black with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning.

He walked in a run, but avoided further damage, finishing the game for his fourth save.


Familia is 2-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 61 relief appearances this season.

He is tied for the second-most appearances by a National League reliever this season.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Thankfully, he got a nice play from Wilmer Flores in the field off a rocket, one-hopper hit to the shortstop’s feet. Flores did a nice job knocking the ball down, followed by a smooth, calm throw for the out.

I love how composed Familia is on the mound, even in rocky situations. Of course, as was the case with Armando Benitez, Familia’s sinker scares me with runners on base, but he’s also young and learning how to handle these tight spots. In either case, it’s exciting to think of what the back-end of this bullpen can be in a year, with Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Bobby Parnell, all healthy, all capable of being the team’s closer on any given night.