Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Mets still hanging on despite inept offense

Michael Conforto's 2014 Bowman Draft baseball card
Is Michael Conforto the answer to the Mets’ offensive woes?

The New York Mets salvaged the final game of their weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals and are continuing to tread water in both the National League East and wildcard races. In the former, they trail Washington by 2 games and have a chance to make up ground when they play the Nationals starting tonight. In the latter, they trail the Chicago Cubs by 2 games, with the San Francisco Giants in between them at 1 game back.

And though the standings say the Mets are very much in the race, another set of numbers paints a very different picture.

In yesterday’s 18-inning victory, the Mets tied a club record by stranding 25 runners on base. (The mark was originally set in 1974 during a 25-inning game.) Mets hitters went 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position and are 3-for-62 with runners in scoring position over their last 8 games. For the season, Mets batters have hit .227 with runners in scoring position and have driven in just 222 runs. Only the Seattle Mariners have been less productive.

Does anybody else see the flaw in Sandy Alderson‘s offensive philosophy that focuses on walks and home runs?

I watched the first six innings of Sunday’s game before I went to work. When I checked to see who won during my break and saw that they were still playing, I half-expected that the game would still be going on when I got home.

Fortunately, the Mets won and I was spared about four hours of frustrating baseball. Unfortunately, we’re looking at a team that could be very tough to watch if Alderson doesn’t do something to improve the offense soon – amazing starting pitching can only carry you so far.

And it looks like a not-very-deep lineup is only going to get worse. Michael Cuddyer is probably headed to the disabled list if the Mets trainers can’t help his balky knee with whatever secret treatment plan they’ve cooked up to try today. Cuddyer’s .250 / .300 / .380 slash line has been disappointing, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis and his .175 / .242 / .404 slash line will probably get the most playing time because of Cuddyer’s absence. And Darrell Ceciliani – the most likely call-up candidate – hit .206 / .270 / .279 during his first stint with the Mets.

There’s increasing pressure to promote top prospect Michael Conforto from Double-A Binghamton, where he’s hitting .325 with 5 home runs and 24 RBI in 41 games. But Conforto is a second-year pro with all of 570 plate appearances. A number of scouts believe he could succeed at the major league level despite his young age. And honestly, it would not be hard to offer more production than Nieuwenhuis, Ceciliani and John Mayberry Jr. (.180 / .250 /.354.)

But if Conforto gets promoted to the Mets this month, particularly in the absence of any significant trade deadline acquisitions, fans and media are going to look to him to carry an offense that looks dead on arrival most nights. If he’s not the second coming of Darryl Strawberry — or at least the 1988 version of Gregg Jefferies — things could get really ugly, really fast. I’d hate to see a kid get labeled as a bust if he doesn’t immediately succeed in a job he might not be ready for.

Conforto should see a promotion – to Triple-A, where he’ll face pitchers with some major league experience. But that’s really not going to help the 2015 Mets offense… I hope Alderson has something in mind that will.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Arizona Fall League is underway

Since the end of the season last Wednesday, Mets fans were left with the unsatisfactory options of rooting against the Yankees or rooting for the various Mets alumni who are on playoff teams this year.

Darrell Ceciliani, seen here playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2010, is part of the New York Mets’ 2012 Arizona Fall League contingent (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Today, we’ve got a third unsatisfactory option: we can root from a distance for potential future Mets playing in the Arizona Fall League.

Each year, all 30 major league teams select a half-dozen minor league prospects and send them out to Arizona where they play for one of six teams. Some teams send their best prospects – Bryce Harper made his professional debut in the Arizona Fall League. Other teams send players who could benefit from additional playing time for one reason or other.

The Mets are contributing players to the Surprise Saguaros, and I recognize two names: outfielders Darrell Ceciliani and Cesar Puello. I saw Ceciliani play for the Cyclones a couple of seasons ago. This year, injuries limited him to just 23 games with the St. Lucie Mets. Puello is currently on the Mets’ 40-man roster, but has yet to play above the Single-A level. Plate discipline is a concern: in his second year with St. Lucie, Puello struck out in 23 percent of his plate appearances and walked just seven times.

The Mets also sent four pitchers: Ryan Fraser, Chase HuchingsonAdam Kolarek and Greg Peavey.

In the Saguaros 5-3 loss to the Peoria Javelinas this afternoon, Ceciliani went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. None of the other Mets prospects played.

I also recognize one other name in the box score, Boston Red Sox outfielder Bryce Brentz. He does have a tie to the Mets organization. With the Mets well out of the race in August 2009, Omar Minaya traded Billy Wagner to the Boston Red Sox for Chris Carter and a minor leaguer. The move was essentially a salary dump. Boston allowed Wagner to leave via free agency at the end of the season and received the Atlanta Braves’ first round pick in 2010 and a supplemental selection at the end of the first round. They used that pick, the 36th overall, to take Brentz.

Brentz spent most of the 2012 season with the Portland Sea Dogs in the Double-A Eastern League. He hit .296 with  17 home runs, 76 RBI, and an .833 OPS. He’s two years younger than Matt Den Dekker, who hit .274 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI and a .779 OPS with Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo this year.

If I was out in the right part of Arizona and could make the Arizona Fall League start times fit in with my work schedule, I bet I’d be really into it. Since I’m not, I’ll check on the Mets prospects from time to time and go back to rooting for Davey Johnson to earn another World Series ring.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

2011 Topps Heritage Minor League Edition Mets baseball cards

I got the regular Mets cards from the 2011 Topps Heritage Minor League Edition set this week. (I’m still waiting for the short-printed Matt Harvey and the two autograph cards to arrive, though.)

Now that I have a few of the cards in hand, I find that I like them a bit better. The cartoons on the back are my favorite part, so I’ve scanned them along with the card fronts.


#81 Darrell Ceciliani

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