MLB: Kansas City Royals-Workout

Opinion: There is more than one way to build a winning team

mangan avatarBrian P. Mangan: There is no one formula that teams follow to have success in MLB. Winning is about talent, chemistry, and luck. But, above all, winning simply requires scoring more runs than the other team. It sounds simplistic, but — despite being a billion-dollar industry — it is a simple game.

For instance, the 2014 Royals cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs on the back of a world-class bullpen and stellar defense, despite a mediocre lineup and starting rotation. Kansas City’s outfielders ranked last in MLB in home runs this season. However, thanks to their outfield’s well above-average ability to get on base, and their world-class defense, they finished fourth in WAR.

On the other hand, the 2008 Phillies won the World Series with an average pitching staff buoyed by a lineup that clubbed teams into submission. The 2001 D-Backs did the opposite, featuring just one well-above average hitter, but a pair of aces delivering once-in-a-lifetime performances. The 1995 Braves finished ninth in the National League in runs scored, but won it all thanks to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, who went a combined 49-16. The Yankees actually built a dynasty with Derek Jeter, a markedly below-average defensive shortstop (an infield position every old timer believes must be strong), but he made up for it by being at the top of the league in overall offensive production year in and year out.

large_001093265Similarly, Keith Hernandez is one of the most beloved Mets of all time and an unquestioned star. He received MVP votes in eight consecutive seasons, winning the award in 1979 and coming in second in 1984. He was a five-time All-Star. He anchored first base for — not one, but two — World Series champions. Yet, he never hit more than 18 home runs in a season. He only eclipsed 35 doubles on three occasions. He averaged only 131 games played per year and, even in his best season with the Mets, he ranked 33rd in the league in home runs and 31st in slugging.

So why, then, was Hernandez considered a star? It’s because he was an on-base machine, who won 11 Gold Glove awards in a row. During his eight-year peak, he posted a whopping .400 OBP and an .854 OPS. Over that stretch, thanks in part to his defense, Hernandez averaged 5.4 WAR per year. In other words, despite never fitting the archetype of the hulking, slugging first baseman, Hernandez helped his teams win from April through October.

I think of players like Hernandez when I hear fans and writers clamoring for guys who fit some kind of ‘mold.’  But, ultimately, how a player provides value is nearly irrelevant.  This is why I want the Mets to acquire and start the best players possible, regardless of whether they contribute that value with their bat, their legs, or their glove.

Keith Hernandez never hit more than 18 home runs in a season. It’s not always about being a ‘big bat,’ but making big contributions.

Brian Mangan is an attorney who lives in New York City. His writing can be found at The Read Zone. Follow his Mets-related thoughts on Twitter: @brianpmangan

Stats: Mets players in the AFL, as of Oct. 22

Brandon Nimmo CF 8 31 10 3 0 5 6 11 1 .447 .419 .323
L.J. Mazzilli 2B 6 20 5 1 0 1 3 5 1 .400 .400 .250
Matt Reynolds SS 7 25 6 2 1 4 5 8 2 .367 .520 .240

Player  W  L  ERA  G  GS  SV  IP  H  R  ER  HR  SO  WHIP 
Dario Alvarez 1 0 6.48 5 0 0 8.1 9 6 6 1 9 1.68
Julian Hilario 1 0 1.13 4 0 0 8.0 6 1 1 1 6 1.00
Rob Whalen 0 1 13.50 2 2 0 4.2 5 7 7 1 5 2.14
Paul Sewald 0 1 9.82 4 0 0 3.2 9 4 4 1 7 3.00

Source:’s Arizona Fall League Roster Page

David Wright takes a swing 1f

What happened to David Wright in 2014?

miniMCavatarMatthew Cerrone: He’s only 31-years-old, so I know I shouldn’t be worried about David Wright. Also, it’s easy to assume his poor production in 2014 is a direct result of shoulder pain. However, he repeatedly told reporters one had nothing to do with the other. And, he may be right.

Through the first 66 games of the year, Wright was on pace to finish the season hitting around .270 with a .330 OBP, 10 HR, 35 doubles, 80 RBI and roughly 2.0 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference.

He injured his shoulder on June 12, he has said. In the 68 games that followed, he received a cortisone shot, missed time, hit by a pitch in the sore shoulder, missed more time, but hit more or less the same as he did before the injury, finishing 2014 batting .268 with a .324 OBP, 8 HR, 30 doubles, 63 RBI and a 1.9 WAR – or, approximately what he was on pace to do before the injury.

David Wright shares a pre-game laughIn other words, even before the documented injury, he was on pace for the worst year of his career.

So, if that’s the case, and Wright is right about his shoulder not being an issue, then what happened?

In any case, Wright is in the process of strengthening the shoulder. In the event it’s still weak in November, Wright will need to consider off-season surgery, which will require a three to three and a half-month rehab process (Rubin, Sept. 25).

FanGraphs’s Steamer projection puts Wright at a 4.0 WAR in 2015, likely hitting around .275 with 18 HR, 33 doubles and 85 RBI, which would not be his best season, but also not his worst. It would, however, drop him out of the five most productive third baseman at time when he’ll be the highest paid third baseman in the National League.

In the end, though, I’m hoping Sandy Alderson’s offense will need to lean less on Wright next season anyway. In the event Alderson acquires a reliable outfielder, plus gets a slight bounce from Curtis Granderson and some growth from Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores, Wright’s projections can work. He doesn’t have to return to being an elite player, like he was in 2012 and 2013, but something between that and last year should be fine.


Mets to interview former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long

The Mets will formally interview former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long for their vacant hitting coach position on Wednesday.1,2,3

Long was the hitting coach for the Yankees for seven seasons before being fired by the team at the end of the season.

The Mets, Blue Jays and Braves reached out to Long shortly after his dismissal.5 He was also drawn interest from the Red Sox, Brewers, Pirates and D-Backs.4

The Mets fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens in May. Lamar Johnson was named interim coach, dismissed at the end of the season and offered a different job in the organization.

Sandy Alderson is working from a short list that contains no more than three-to-four names, according to a source.7

It was reported in May that Curtis Granderson, who played four years under Long, and several teammates were using Long’s infamous Home Run Drill during pre-game warm ups. 6

miniMCavatarMatthew Cerrone: It’s sounding like Long is the front runner. He is the first person they’re bringing in for an interview, he applies the same principles as Sandy Alderson, he lives in New York, knows the market, knows how to handle local media and has a fan in Granderson. Dave Magadan makes sense to some extent, but I keep hearing if he’s going to leave Texas, he wants to go to a team with a top offense and a good chance of winning next year. Also, this will be the second time in a few years that he left a situation early to go to greener pastures, and that has to be somewhat of a concern, I would think.

1. Nick Cafardo, Oct. 21 | 2. Marc Carig, Oct. 21 | 3. Joel Sherman, Oct. 21 | 4. Feinsand, Oct. 13 | 5. Ehalt, Oct. 10 | 6. MetsBlog, May 19 | 7. Mike Puma, Oct. 22

Tuesday’s Arizona Fall League recap…

Mets shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds reached base twice on a pair of walks Tuesday, but was hitless in three at-bats.

He’s reached base via hit or walk in seven of his eight AFL games.

Read more at SNY’s Mets Minors…

Mostly Mets, pres. by Caesars AC: Getting to the World Series the Royal Way

Toby Hyde and Robert Brender are joined by former Royals broadcaster Rob Ford, to see how they built a World Series team from the ashes, and if that way can work for the Mets.  Plus, the guys check in on the Mets prospects in the Arizona Fall League.

(Link to Subscribe)

For the show rundown, click here...

  • Intro
  • World Series chat with Rob Ford
    • Can the Royals way work for the Mets?
  • Discussion Download and WS Predictions (17:55)
  • AFL Check In (26:40)
    • Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds, LJ Mazzilli, and more
  • One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (35:30)