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.
Toby 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.
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.
The Mets and Yankees have contacted Dave Magadan about their vacancy at hitting coach, he recently told the New York Post.1Magadan was scheduled to meet with Yankees GM Brian Cashman on Wednesday in New York to discuss the job.2
Matthew Cerrone: Basically, Magadan is considered an elite hitting coach, it’s that simple. Frankly, I only really know of him as the skinny guy who filled in for Keith Hernandez during the late ’80s.
So, I reached out to several people around the game, including players and executives he once worked with, and I’m intrigued by what I learned…
The Good News
I’m impressed with how much people respect him. He’s highly regarded, and that is putting it lightly. In short, players praised his ability to communicate with all different types of guys, whether veterans or rookies or those that don’t necessarily apply his specific principles. In terms of philosophy, he sounds like a Sandy Alderson disciple, talking about aggressive hitting, putting the ball in play, “line drives and hard ground balls,” swinging at everything in the zone, drawing walks if necessary and preaching that hitters’s counts result in more power.
From what I understand, Mets hitters were starting to tune out Hudgens, not because they didn’t agree with what he was saying, but because he may have been inundating them with too much data and information. He talked swing velocity, heat maps, pitch percentages and so on. In other words, he may have been lacking in the communication part of the job. His temporary replacement, Lamar Johnson, seemed to go the entire other direction.
Magadan may be more in the middle, which is probably why he is in such high demand.
The Bad News
The Padres hired Alderson to be their CEO in 2005, at which time Magadan had already been the team’s hitting coach for three seasons. However, with the Padres last in the National League in hitting after Alderson’s first season, Magadan was fired, after which he immediately joined the Red Sox where he had great success.
In the end, I talked with eight people who seemed to have a good read on Magadan, and none of them felt he would join the Mets. Instead, they all predicted he would only leave Texas for a team with strong hitters and a roster ready for the playoffs in 2015.
It makes sense that Alderson would have interest in Magadan, given the coach’s reputation and approach to hitting. I have no idea if Magadan is interested in the Mets. However, his previous relationship with Alderson, along with Sandy’s roster, payroll and ballpark, not to mention a pitching-rich division, all lead me to think he’ll end up choosing a different home.
The Mets should sign OF Nick Markakis, who will ask for at least three years and $40 million, writes New York columnist Joel Sherman (NY Post, Oct. 16).
The Orioles are interested in re-signing Markakis (Connoly, Oct. 9), though they did recently decline his $17.5 million option for 2015.
“Markakis is not a perfect fit for the Mets,” given his age, contract demands, left-handed bat and lack of power, explains Sherman. However, “He can hit leadoff. He had a .342 on-base percentage this season, .358 for his career, has a habit of turning at-bats serial (3.97 pitch per plate appearance average) and doesn’t back down as a lefty hitter against lefty pitching. He is an excellent two-way player, a pro, a grinder and durable.
Markakis, who has played 147 or more games in eight of his nine big-league seasons, hit .276 with 14 HR this season, while playing right field.
Should the Mets sign Nick Markakis for three-years?
Maggie Wiggin:Maybe: Markakis is an interesting candidate. He fills an area of obvious need in right field (though his defense has been a question mark lately due to his poor range) and he has the potential to provide a solid bat. I say “potential,” because his 2013 season was terrible and, while he bounced back in 2014 (with reduced power), it’s reasonable to worry about what trajectory he is on as he begins his age 31 season. That said, if he can put up an OBP anywhere near his career .358 mark, he would be a huge upgrade at leadoff for the Mets. I would balk at signing him to a three-year deal, especially with a draft pick attached, but if he’d sign for two years and an option, I think it’s a good match.
Michael Baron: No:Markakis is a nice compliment to a deep outfield. He sprays the ball around a lot, doesn’t strikeout all that much, gets on-base frequently, is a solid defender and — aside from 2012 — has always been a steady presence in the lineup. He reminds me a lot of Shawn Green. But, like the Cardinals outfielders that were discussed yesterday, Markakis really doesn’t solve Alderson’s problem in the outfield. The Mets need right-handed power. Markakis is neither right-handed, nor is he a legitimate power threat, and he’s on the wrong side of 30. In addition, despite shrinking the dimensions in right field, playing in Citi Field and the other parks in the NL East could further diminish whatever power he does have at this stage of his career.
Brian P. Mangan: No: Markakis has been a quietly above-average player for most of his nine years in the big leagues. From 2009 to present, he’s batted .286 with a .350 OBP, with below-average defense and posting an average 1.7 WAR per year. Although Sherman is correct that Markakis would present an offensive improvement over Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker, he gives much of that back on defense and will likely not justify his asking price. On top of that, signing Markakis may cost the Mets their first round draft pick in 2015, depending on if Baltimore extends him a Qualifying Offer. Markakis is a better offensive player than people give him credit for, but I’m not interested at that cost.