Mets Farm System Reviews Day 2: More People Like Us

Yesterday we took a look at Minor League Ball’s review of the Mets system, which was a positive review! Minor League Ball talked about how the top 10 players in the Mets system all project to spend time in the majors at some point and that the lower leagues are in good shape as a well.

Midday yesterday, Baseball America released their top 10 for the Mets system, and they also talked about how the Mets look good on the prospect front:

  1. Noah Syndergaard
  2. Steve Matz
  3. Brandon Nimmo
  4. Dilson Herrera
  5. Kevin Plawecki
  6. Amed Rosario
  7. Michael Conforto
  8. Rafael Montero
  9. Marcos Molina
  10. Gavin Cecchini

The top 5 are essentially the same from Minor League Ball, except they have Dilson Herrera and Nimmo switched. Minor League ball also has Montero at 6 and Rosario at 9, then the rest essentially in the same spot (except Cecchini is at 11 and Urena in the top 10 citing that Urena is yet to get the national attention.

It’s interesting to note how many hitters both prospects list  put in the top 10. While it doesn’t help us in the immediate short term, this bodes well down the road, especially if the Mets ever decide to make a move.

Several players from last year’s list have moved. #2 was d’Arnaud, who is now a regular. Montero has dropped from the three spot, Smith has dropped from the top 10 altogether but I think that’s an overreaction. Flores has also been dropped from the 6 spot, now a regular. Nimmo shot up, Cecchini dropped a spot and Jacob deGrom at the 10 spot won the rookie of the year. There’s a lot to like in the Mets farm system.

Mets Farm Systems Review Day 1: It’s Positive!

Around the Minaya-Era, Mets fans experienced bleak farm system reviews. Our market hyped up our prospects, some deserved, some not, and mixed with some bad luck (Reese Havens never staying healthy), the Mets never really had rave reviews on the farm system. The last four years, around when Beltran was traded for Wheeler, this started to change and now the Mets have a farm system that lost 5 players in the Rule V Draft.

Yesterday Minor League Ball released their top 20 Mets Prospects list and later today Baseball America will be releasing theirs. I cannot predict what Baseball America will say, but Minor League Ball was all over the Mets system. In short, the Mets have a strong amount of players that project to not only be major leaguers but also project to be possible starters, or major league mainstays. A huge amount of players also got a ranking of “C+” which at the the lower levels / ages that they are, they are on track to be an A/B type prospect (Cecchini, D Smith, Whalen and Becerra are in this category while Mazzoni, Mazilli are your more typical C+ prospects). Anyway here are the top 10, please visit the link for their grades and write-ups, which are worth it:

  1. Noah Syndergaard
  2. Steven Matz
  3. Dilson Herrera
  4. Brandon Nimmo
  5. Kevin Plawecki
  6. Rafael Montero
  7. Michael Conforto
  8. Marcos Molina
  9. Ahmed Rosario
  10. Jhoan Urena

Becerra, ranked at 17 at age 20 was said to have one of the highest ceiling bats in the system. His name should sound familiar as he was also part of the R.A. Dickey trade.

Alex Rios Makes Sandy Alderson Look Like A Genius and a Thief

Alex Rios signed a one year, 11 million dollar contract with the Royals yesterday.

Alex Rios. Who had a nice .280 BA, but an average/below average (especially for the price) OBP at .311. Alex Rios who last year hit 4 homers. Alex Rios who had a war of 0.6 in 2014 over 500+ AB’s but had a 1.1 WAR in 2013. Alex Rios is a example of the price inflation on offensive WAR.

Compare that to Cuddyer, who does play in Colorado and did play in only 49 games last year. In those 49, he hit .331, had an OBP of .376 and had 10 homers. The previous year he hit .332 with an OBP of .389 and 20 homers over 489 AB’s. He had a WAR of 1.2 last year and 1.8 the year before. He doubled Rios’s WAR in about 40% of the amount of AB’s that Rios had. Cuddyer signed a two year deal for 21 million.

Earlier in the off-season, I said, like many people, that I would judge the Cuddyer signing based on what other moves the Mets have made. Without bringing in another shortstop, the Cuddyer signing isn’t enough (probably) for next year. However, by shocking everyone and moving on Cuddyer quickly, Sandy saved the Mets a lot of money, or at least money as it compares to WAR starts. Rios is a candidate for a bounce back year but as things stand today, I much rather have Cuddyer for two years then Rios for one year, with a similar average salary per year.

Even though I would love the Mets to spend more money like the big market team that they are, moves like this remind me why I’m a blogger and Alderson is a general manager.

More On Jung-ho Kang

Jung-ho (Jeong-ho) Kang was posted today, which was expected. The posting period will end on Firday at 5 PM, so we can probably expect a limited amount of significant news until then as teams will deny interest until that point (as they should, it’s a blind, closed bid).

Throughout the day though, I came across some interesting Kang numbers that perpetuate the whole, “who knows if he’s going to be good in the MLB” feeling:

  • He went 2-9, HR in the WBC
  • In the 2014 Asian games, he was 5-11 with 2 HR
  • His KBL leading OPS of 1.198 was followed by Eric Thames who had an OPS of 1.110. This is the same Thames that bounced around the majors for a few years. It is dangerous to extrapolate Kang’s numbers from this point, but if you really wanted to you could do some transitive property analysis of the Majors to Thames to Kang to the Majors. This probably means nothing though.
  • He had a breakout year this year, but he’s been putting up power numbers consistently in the KBL for a while. It’s also the KBL.
  • He has won 4 Gold Gloves.

The Jung-Ho Kang Rumor Mill

Jung-Ho Kang, the slugging shortstop from Korea, will be posted by his KBL team today. News outlets immediately linked Kang with the Mets, probably because the Mets could use a shortstop. Since then there have been various reports of interest on the Mets side with some writers saying the Mets are very interested (Heyman) and others saying the Mets are unsure (Ackert).

MLB Trade Rumors list the Cardinals, Padres, A’s, Yankees, Royals, Nationals and Diamondbacks as other teams that may have interest.

The Mets need to answer these questions first before pursuing Kang:

  1. Can Kang play SS in the MLB? Or is more of a 3B/2B/Corner OF type?
  2. Does Kang’s power translate into the MLB?

Kang hit 38 homers last season, but the KBL generally matches with AA teams in the States. Signing Kang will cost a posting fee of 10 million and then a 2-3 year contract, so overall 20-30 million. Kang’s age is the difference maker between this scenario and signing a AA player for 20-30 million out of another team’s system. Kang is 28, is about to be in his prime and has the extra years of learning how to see the ball, knowing his body, etc. Does this translate into the MLB? If I could honestly answer that question I would probably be a scout and not a blogger, so I’m not comfortable making that definitive statement.

Moves like this are hard to evaluate in a vacuum of just player. If the Mets can sign Kang to a friendly deal and a low posting fee, then yes, why not take a risk. If he doesn’t work out at Short he could be traded later to a team that needs a 3B/2B or corner outfield. If other Shortstop options look completely bleak (Tulo, Moncado, etc). If another move can be made, then Kang would seem like a silly risk. Maybe the Mets really get involved in the international market and sign Kang as a bridge to Moncado? (Ha! Just kidding, that has like a 0.005% chance of ever happening).

The only absolute today will be the amount of rumors the Mets will be mentioned in, credible or not, with regards to Kang and that #MetsTwitter will have a hilarious overreaction to Kang no matter what happens.

The Next Chapter For Ike Davis: Designation

It wasn’t completely unexpected, but the Pirates designated Ike Davis for assignment yesterday. The Pirates were going to have Alvarez switch to first base next year and at that point, Davis doesn’t have a position. Although Davis has great defense skills, he still hasn’t figured out how to put together a season like his 2012 season where he slammed 32 homers.

In 30 Plate Appearances with the Mets last year, Davis hit one homer. In 397 with the Pirates, he hit an additional 10 finishing the season with a .233 batting average. For the Mets, Lucas Duda went onto a great season after the trade. Same can’t be said for Davis.

But that we all already knew.

What is next for Davis? MLB Trade Rumors projects that Davis would be looking at 4.4 million in arbitration. Right now it is difficult to imagine a team giving him that in this manner. He is still young, and could still hit a ton of bombs again, so 4.4 million would be cheap. He could also bomb out again, and it would be a strain on payroll. Probably an MLB team would feel more comfortable signing him to a incentive filled contract, which just can’t happen right now.

So is he going to clear waivers? That’s a good question. He’s an expensive gamble that can pay off, or just blow up in the face of the team that signs him.

MLB Free Agents Signing Quickly in 2014-15

We are almost two thirds of the way through November and already five players plus an honorable mention have signed off of the MLB Trade Rumors Top 50 Free Agent List. I couldn’t comb through last year’s data so I don’t know if this is faster or slower than last year but it feels faster. So far these players have signed:

  • #6 Victor Martinez (4 years, 68 Million, Detroit)
  • #8 Russel Martin (5 years, 82 Million, Toronto)
  • #29 Cuddyer (2 years, 21 Million, New York Mets)
  • #34 A.J. Burnett (1 year, 8.5 Million, Pittsburgh)
  • #41 Billy Butler (3 years, 30 Million, Oakland)
  • HM, Zach Duke (3 years, 15 Million, Chicago White Sox)

Out of this list, Martinez and possible Burnett were the only ones that were expected. The Martin deal happened very quickly after rumors with the Cubs. The Cuddyer deal caught the vast majority of the baseball world by surprise. Butler just had rumors starting last night and now he’s signed. Zach Duke was in a similar boat.

Right now there are major rumors surrounding possible offers on the table for Pablo Sandoval who would be added to this list.

Like I said earlier, I’m not sure if this is a different trend from previous years, but essentially 2-3 weeks into the off-season 10% of the free agents have already signed. If another 10% sign by Thanksgiving then it might be definitive that the market is moving fast.

How The Mets “Influenced” The Blue Jays Signing Martin

Yesterday the Blue Jays agreed to signed Russel Martin on a 5 year, 82 million deal.

Russel Martin, who will be 32 next season, ended up getting a very similar deal to the 5 year, 85 million Brian McCann got from the Yankees last year, who was 31 going into his first year of the contract. Martin is a career .259 hitter coming off of an excellent season with a .290 BA with 119 HR, averaging 17 a year. McCann is a .272 career hitter with a total of 199 homers averaging 26 a year. Martin is by far the best catcher on the free agent market this year, and unless a team wants to trade for a catcher, they needed to shell out. The Cubs were rumored to offer 4 years, 62 million, so the Blue Jays going 5 for 82 doesn’t seem too farfetched.

It is quite possible though, that the Mets indirectly led to this move.

Before the R.A. Dickey trade, the Blue Jays looked flushed at catcher. They had J.P. Arencibia, who was coming off a 2011 season with 23 homers and a 2012 season with 18 homers. They also had d’Arnaud who looked finally ready to jump to the big leagues. So the Blue Jays do what all teams need to do, to bring in a big player like R.A. Dickey, they needed to take a risk. Essentially the deal required one of Arencibia, d’Arnaud or Gose in addition to the rest of the package, to get done.

Arencibia kept his power numbers up the following year, but his bating average started to fall. He signed a deal with the Rangers after the season and had only 222 PA’s last year. Gose, who never quite put it together, was just traded to the Detroit. The Blue Jays also took on Thole and Nickeas to catch Dickey. Thole still struggles with the bat and we all know about Nickeas.

So the Blue Jays need a catcher, because many of their players are due to leave after the next two seasons, and now they have to overpay for Russel Martin to do it.

The Mets did not influence the Blue Jays to do make this signing, but the Mets were a key part in the gamble that led to the Blue Jays needing to sign Martin.

The Team Unfriendly or Friendly Stanton Deal

I was going to hold off on writing about the Stanton deal until it was actually released, but whatever I’ll write an opinion piece about a deal which has rumored details.

The rumors right now have the deal structured over 13 years for 325 million with a opt out clause after the 5th year.

If the opt out clause is true, think about the pay raise, or just the record setting career pay, Stanton would get if he opts out. If Stanton opts out, that means his performance over the next 5 years warrants that he deserves a contract worth more than whatever is left of 325 million over the next 8. If Stanton opts out then he is looking to making more than this 325 million over his career.

I’m curious if there is anything is this contract that is friendly for the Marlins. 13 years is not team friendly. 325 million is not team friendly. There is a rumor they may include a no-trade clause, not team friendly. Finally player opt outs are already not team friendly, but after only 5 years, that is super not team friendly. This contract also screams for insurance. Paying insurance on a 325 million deal would be absurdly expensive. But if something happens to Stanton over the next 13 years, the Marlins would be stuck in a mighty financial hole.

The part of the contract that is team friendly is that contract is for Stanton. There is very little possibility that the Marlins would ever be able to trade Stanton for his actual worth. Trading him would gut an already gutted fan base. Letting him walk would do the same. They need Stanton. The Marlins will also need something else though besides Stanton. I wonder what the next move will be.

Pitch Clock Violation! Baseball Tries Out Time Saving Techniques in the AFL

The Arizona Fall League, where instant replay was tested before being implemented league wide, is where the league is going to try to speed up the game of baseball. This season more than usual, it seemed that Mets games just dragged on. The magic length for me is 3 hours. At that point, the game really should be over. A perfect length would be 2:30, where a 7:00 game ends around 9:30. For a while I thought Mets games were longer because of Colin’s management of the bullpen, but it is a league wide epidemic.

The first day was a success in the AFL as this article points out. The average game time dropped about 9 minutes compared to last year which doesn’t sound like much but that is the difference between catching your connecting train New York and missing it. Obviously one day of data collecting is way too small of a sample size but it will be interesting to see what happens over the course of the fall. Some of the rules the AFL is using:

  • One foot in the batters box at all time, unless hit by a foul ball etc
  • Limits on how many times a batter can step out
  • Time Limits between innings
  • Time Limits between pitches.

Only one of the three games made use of the last part, 20 seconds between pitches. In the future if a pitcher doesn’t make the 20 second mark, the pitch is counted as an automatic ball.

What I’m most curious to see is how the clock changes the running game. This now puts a time where pitchers need to pitch, so this gives the runner a window to start running. This also could change how catchers approach calling in these situations to catch batters at 2nd base. This is probably the most controversial of the measures.