MetsBlog Q&ACast, pres. by Verizon

In the latest Right-Track, Wrong-Track Poll, 82 percent of voters said the Mets are heading in the right direction.

In this week’s MetsBlog Q&ACast, pres. by Verizon, Matthew Cerrone airs voicemails from listeners talking about why they agree or disagree with these poll results, after which he answers questions about Jeff Wilpon’s role, acquiring an outfielder or a shortstop, Wally Backman’s future, and where is John Stearns…

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Matt den Dekker makes a catch 1n

I’ll choose Matt den Dekker over Eric Young Jr.

miniMCavatarMatthew Cerrone: Matt den Dekker is why I would non-tender Eric Young Jr, who is arbitration eligible this winter and likely to earn $2.5 million in 2015.

Remember, a few years ago, it was den Dekker who most scouts and Mets personnel felt was the better defensive center fielder when compared to Juan Lagares.

Lagares may be a potential star and he’s fielding can be worth the price of admission. However, he plays an aggressive and acrobatic center field. It’s beautiful, but dangerous. He’s going to be hurt, and he’s proving he’ll likely spend time on the disabled list. However, with den Dekker paroling center field, the team’s defense will barely skip a beat.

“Though his defense and speed might be his two most compelling tools, den Dekker can be surprisingly good offensively,” Bernie Pleskoff said, who served as a professional scout for the Astros and Mariners (, Oct. 16).

Matt den Dekker sprints to firstIn Pleskoff’s view, unlike at the start of den Dekker’s career, he now has a short, line-drive swing, quick hands and he doesn’t try to pull pitches or hit home runs; instead, he simply looks to put the barrel on the ball and hit to all fields.

“He has made adjustments along the way in his Minor League career that have seen him shorten a long swing, gain more patience at the plate and refine an ability to better recognize the spin on breaking balls,” according to Pleskoff. “Each of those factors has led to more contact and a better overall feel for hitting.”

Den Dekker’s at bats remind me of Ichiro Suzuki, dragging his bat and slapping at pitches as his body glides out of the strike zone, as if to get a head start on running before the ball is in play.

In the end, I see him as a good, useful outfielder, with good range and judgement regardless of what position he is playing. He has good baseball instincts, as Plekoff put it. He doesn’t have enough power to play every day, but he can run fast, play smart, make strong throws and play any outfield position at the drop of a hat. He’s also a good role player off the bench, able to slap a single, draw a walk and get a good jump off first base, which I think he’ll get even better at the more he sees big-league deliveries.

He’ll cost the league minimum. However, given Lagares’s track record with injuries, den Dekker will often be more valuable than that.

Sandy Alderson

M’s, Reds, White Sox and Tigers also want a power hitter

The Mariners, Reds, White Sox and Tigers will be Sandy Alderson’s primary competition for a power hitter this off season, according to research by ESPN’s Mark Simon (ESPN, Oct. 16).

“The Mariners could be a problem for the Mets this offseason,” Simon explains. “Manager Lloyd McClendon has already said the team needs a No. 4 hitter to pair with 2B Robinson Cano and 3B Kyle Seager. The Mariners have both the money and the young talent to get the players they want.”

Similarly, he says, the White Sox have money to spend and are also thought to be looking for an impact bat.

Jay Bruce“However, according to Simon, “The Reds may be a more intriguing trade partner than a competitor for the Mets if they’re willing to part with Jay Bruce,” which would free up money for Cincinnati to spend on new talent and extending RHP Johnny Cueto.

Bruce has three years and $34.5 million left on his current deal, plus a team option for $13 million. He and the Reds were reportedly discussing a new contract extension, but talks stopped after he tore the meniscus in his knee in late April.

The Reds appear to be at a bit of a crossroads, deciding between rebuilding or tweaking the roster (MLBTR, Oct. 17).

Bruce struggled in 2014, playing in 134 games with a sore knee and hitting just .217 with 18 HR and 71 RBI. He had a -1.1 WAR in 2014, down a full 5 points from the year before.

Citi Field grass

In case you missed it on MetsBlog…

Triple-A Las Vegas hitting coach George Greer, who was a candidate to become the Mets hitting coach, was hired by the Cardinals >> Read more at MetsBlog

Matthew Cerrone talked with people in baseball about Dave Magadan, who the Mets are interested in for their hitting coach position >> Read more at MetsBlog

The MetsBlog staff opined on whether or not the Mets should go after pending free agent OF Nick Markakis >> Read more at MetsBlog

In the Arizona Fall League, Brandon Nimmo reached base for the sixth straight game >> Read more at MetsMinors


Mets Triple-A coach George Greer hired by Cardinals

George Greer, who served as the hitting coach for Triple-A Las Vegas the last three seasons, has been hired by the Cardinals (Rubin, Oct. 16).

Greer is expected to oversee the Cardinals’ system-wide hitting program.

Prior to being hired by the Cardinals, the Mets were considering Greer for their vacant hitting coach position.

Dave Magadan, Kevin Long, Bobby Abreu, Edgardo Alfonzo and Val Pascucci, along with Greer, have all reportedly been mentioned as possible candidates to be hitting coach for the Mets.

HydeToby Hyde: Greer had been with the Mets for nine years, all but one as a hitting coach at the team level, so this is a nice promotion for him. The Mets promised Lamar Johnson that he could return to his spot as minor league hitting coordinator, so they did not have a similar position to offer Greer. I don’t think I ever heard a bad word about Greer. All the same, I am hard pressed to recall a specific hitter who pointed to major changes that Greer helped him make to his swing or approach.

Greer has had an unusual career in baseball. He was an NCAA head coach for 23 years, the last 17 at Wake Forest, before sliding over to professional baseball with the Mets. Once with the blue and orange, he managed for one year, his first, with Brooklyn in 2006. He then worked his way up the system as a hitting coach from the Appalachian League, through Savannah, St. Lucie and then up to triple-A in 2012.

Does Greer being hired by St. Louis matter? Not in the grand scheme of things for the Mets, although it’s probably good news for some other hitting coach in the system who is now looking at a promotion to Triple-A.

Thursday’s Arizona Fall League recap…

Mets outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo reached base for the sixth straight game Thursday when he drew a walk. However, he was hitless for the first time in AFL play, going 0-for-3.

Read more at SNY’s Mets Minors…


5 things we learned from Frank Viola

Earlier this week, SNY.TV’s Toby Hyde and Robert Brender talked by phone with Mets Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola, who spent time this year working with Jacon deGrom, Rafael Montero and team’s other top pitching prospects.

Here are five things we learned from their interview…

1. Rafael Montero has the best command of any pitcher in the organization, including on the big-league roster: “He was mechanically fine, when he got in trouble he forgot about his change up. He needed to throw it more often.”

2. Noah Syndergaard is not quite ready to be on an Opening Day roster: “He’s a bonafide No. 2 or 3 starter, there’s no question. … The stuff is there, but you can’t rush experience.”

3. The secret to Zack Wheeler’s second-half success was getting strike one: “I’m not saying he tries to strike everybody out, but he does throw way too many pitches during the course of a game.”

4. We have yet to see the best of Jacob deGrom, despite his success in 2014: “This is just the start of things to come for him.”

5. Logan Verrett and Cory Mazzoni can make a difference in the big leagues, either as back-end starters or relievers. Verrett’s slider is already good enough to get out big-league hitters. Verrett and Mazzoni ended 2014 in Triple-A and were both ranked in the team’s Top 20 prospects entering this season.

Mostly Mets Podcast, pres. Ceasears AC

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