10/23/17

Reese Kaplan -- Bench Coach Suggestion

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With “Cab” Callaway now in hand, the attention turns to whom the organization should contact to fill out the remainder of the staff.  As I’ve suggested already, it would behoove the Mets to consider a right hand man as bench coach who is bilingual in order to help connect with many of the players.  Towards that end, there’s one guy I’d certainly like to see them target but his resume might be a bit light for their liking – the Tampa Bay Rays’ 3rd base coach, Charlie Montoyo.

For whatever reasons, the Mets did not reach out to Montoyo as a potential managerial candidate despite his stellar reputation.  He had previously interviewed for the Seattle Mariners managerial vacancy and was considered for the Rays post as well.  His minor league career as a manager is indeed impressive.  Leading the AAA Durham Bulls from 2007 to 2014 he posted only a single losing season while winning his division 7 times in 8 years.  He twice won the International League Manager of the Year Award.  He’s been inducted into the International League Hall of Fame and had his number retired by the Durham Bulls. 

Bulls GM Mike Birling said of Montoyo, “Charlie will always have a very special place in Durham Bulls history, What he accomplished on the field speaks for itself, but it was the relationships he formed off the field – with fans, the front office, players and coaches – that separates him from so many. We’re extremely happy to honor him by retiring his jersey.”

While he may not have major league managerial experience on his resume, having been at the helm successfully for 7 years with that kind of track record suggests he has enough in his background to help Callaway transition to his broader responsibilities.  As a 3rd base coach, the upgrade to bench coach might be appealing and it would address the need for a bilingual member of the management team.  
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Mack's Apple's - Baseball Collection, Speed Up Games, Mia Khalifa, Japanese Mud Bowl, Multi-Sports Athletes

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Good morning.


MLB Rallies To Help Boy Whose Baseball Collection Was Destroyed By Fire –

"[M]y house burned down in Santa Rosa and my saddest things was my baseball collection cards, my 17 jerseys and 10 hats and my baseball from the game and also a ball signed by the whole team and Ricky [Henderson] and Bob Melvin," Smith wrote. "I had a major league baseball and it all burned up. So sad. I know you are not all together but hope they get this."

                        Read about how Oakland stepped up.


Does Major League Baseball really want to  speed up games ?

There was a good deal of talk going into this season about speeding up games by enforcing rules about how long there is supposed to be between pitches and eliminating the need to throw four balls to intentionally walk a batter.
The result: Regular season games average three hours, five minutes, an all-time high.

I’m both a baseball fan and a baseball writer, so I have no problem with how long the game goes. I’m usually writing when watching the game at home or, those games I still attend, are minor league ones that I have a press pass to sit behind home plate with a radar gun.

But, take my wife. She HATES baseball, mainly because, as she says, ‘it’s so slow and boring”.

Still, I don’t think fans care about this non-issue, especially the ones attending the games, eating burgers and fries with their friends, and getting some adult to go buy them a beer.

No, they want the game to never end.



Porn star Mia Khalifa was reportedly ejected from a baseball game after an altercation with a fan. The adult film star, 24, attended the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs game on Saturday when a fan tried to take a selfie with her without her permission, The Daily Mail reported. According to reports, Khalifa punched the fan in the jaw before being removed from the game.

“Baseball sucks,” she added.

            Takes one to know one…




In the first round of the Nippon Professional Baseball playoffs in Japan, the Hanshin Tigers and Yokohama DeNA Baystars battled through absolutely absurd conditions to play an entire baseball game in the mud. The result was unlike any baseball game I’ve ever seen. To watch the highlights with the full swampy effect, here’s “Born On The Bayou.”

I hope you are enjoying all this non-Mets baseball articles that I am highlighting in my new ‘Mack’s Apple’s’ series. Please share me your thoughts on this expansion in other baseball areas.




          
  To be sure, many multi-sport stars still end up giving baseball the cold shoulder as they get older. Tom Kotchman, a longtime MLB scout, recalls seeing one such player while at a college baseball game about 10 years ago.

By then, the player had already forsaken baseball for the school football team, but when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch that night, Kotchman noticed something. It wasn’t just the arm strength. It was also how visibly irritated he was when the pitch got away from the catcher. “You saw the competitiveness,” he said.

Kotchman, then a scout with the Los Angeles Angels, asked coaches to pass along an information card for him to fill out, eyeing him as a likely late-round draft pick. But he never heard back, and the player continued his foray into football.

His name was Tim Tebow.


            Gotcha Tom!

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Reese Kaplan -- Is Housecleaning Really Happening?

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Every time you think you’ve got this club all figured out they go and do something that makes you think, “Hey, maybe they DO get it after all.”  We had one of those moments yesterday in between our NFL marathon when word came out that the Mets have not chosen existing hitting coach Kevin Long, twice-fired manager with a losing record, Manny Acta, but instead grabbed one of the two most highly sought-after young managerial rookie candidates.  Mickey Callaway makes a ton of sense for this organization and I applaud the surprising and atypical selection.

First of all, this club was supposed to be built upon pitching.  Save for a brief period when they had the luxury of a healthy Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard towards the end of the 2015 season, the bullpen has been a disaster for quite some time.  No matter how good your starting pitchers are supposed to be, the reality of today’s game is 6 innings has become the maximum expectation.  You can’t continually give away 1/3 of the game.  The club just brought in a number of hard throwing if raw relief pitching prospects to go along with some of what has and has not worked in the past.  A guy who worked magic with pitchers in Cleveland seems particularly well suited for this challenge.

Then, of course, there’s the question of the starting pitchers.  Granted, you can’t control injuries (though conditioning, observation and coaching can all help keep starters ready to go every 5 days).  Some people feel that by the time a player reaches the majors he should already know what to do.  Whether we’re talking about hitters or pitchers, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Take, for example, the case of Matt Harvey.  When he arrived on the scene he seemingly retired hitters effortlessly, struck out batters almost at will and exhibited terrific control.  Then came the injuries – the Tommy John Surgery, the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, etc.  It’s only human nature for a person to alter his natural motion to compensate for pain or weakness which, in turn, can result in poor results or further injury.  Too often the previous regime seemed to mishandle injuries and I can’t help but wonder how much was done to aid a pitcher in doing only what he was capable of doing and reinforcing the exercises needed to get him back on track.  If it turns out that a return to form is not possible, how much has been done to reinvent pitchers.  Granted, hard throwers get all the attention, but you can have a long and successful career based upon control, pitch selection and ball movement as well. 

When you look at the injuries that visited Noah Syndergaard, Steve Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and the aforementioned Harvey, you have to think a fresh approach is needed.  That brings me to perhaps the most surprising aspect of this hire.  Callaway has absolutely no ties to the NY Mets and has worked with one of the brightest minds in baseball in Terry Francona.  Perhaps that decision is Alderson’s acknowledgement to his bosses that the smartest guy in the room is never too old to learn something. 

Now that the managerial selection has been made, the next soap opera will involve the hiring of the coaching staff.  Early indications are that they will ask Kevin Long to stay, but you’d have to question whether or not that’s a good move considering the dynamic of the rejected managerial candidate potentially sabotaging the new guy.  That’s not an indictment of Kevin Long specifically, but just observation based upon many years of making hiring decisions. 

The one area I do expect to see a veteran presence brought into the fold is as bench coach.  Dick Scott was never considered for the managerial job so perhaps for continuity’s sake they will want to foist him off on Callaway.  However, there are any number of other veteran ex-managers around who could help Callaway through his apprenticeship.  Considering how poorly last season unfolded, a complete housecleaning might not necessarily be a bad thing.  When a manager gets to pick his own staff, they should be loyal to him and buy into his program.  Having others forced upon you makes that far less likely to happen and seems a case of damning with faint praise – “We trust you to run the ballclub, just not that much.”

Personally, I hope that Alderson and Callaway approach former colleague Sandy Alomar, Jr. to offer him the position of bench coach.  He’s also very highly regarded in baseball circles, and would probably view the role as a bump up from 1st base coach which he currently holds with the Indians.  After serving briefly in that role for the Indians, they moved him aside for former Astros manager Brad Mills.  Furthermore, the Mets coaching staff has been decidedly Caucasian shepherding a multicultural ballclub.  Having a Hispanic coach in a high position might help with communication to some of the key ballplayers. 

So do you think there will be a great many contract renewals, or do you think they’ll go with a clean slate for 2017? 
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10/22/17

BREAKING NEWS - New Mets Manager

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The Mets have offered their managerial job to Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The two sides are finalizing Callaway’s contract, Sherman adds (Twitter link).
The 42-year-old Callaway emerged as the top candidate for the job earlier Sunday, beating out Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, Mariners third base coach Manny Acta and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing for the position. Callaway “stood out” from the rest during his interviews with Mets brass, Sherman tweets. The club’s hope is that Long will stay on as part of Callaway’s staff, per Sherman (on Twitter).
Callaway, who also drew interest from the manager-needy Phillies, developed an excellent reputation during his five-year run as the Indians’ pitching coach. In what will go down as Callaway’s final season on manager Terry Francona’s staff, the Indians boasted one of the most successful pitching staffs of all-time.
www.mlbtr.com

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Tom Brennan - MY METS PROSPECTS # 36 to # 40

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Tom Brennan - MY METS PROSPECTS # 36 to # 40

It is frankly hard to rank guys in the #36 to #50 prospect range because there are probably at least 30, maybe 40, players who one could pick to be within that 15 player cluster.

Also, for the most part, the difference between a number 36 prospect and number 50 prospect is not all that great, so my 50 could be your 36, and vice versa.  A lot of this is judgmental calls and throwing darts at a dartboard.  And I stink at darts....stand AWAY from the dartboard!

I was tempted to throw a bunch of developmental league kids in there, because the Mets' 2 DSL teams did so darned well this year, but the competition level in the DSL is sub-rookie league ball, so I will only pick one DSLer, and start focusing on the other good ones when they come stateside next year in terms of prospect rankings.

So here are my # 36 thru # 40 hombres:

# 36 WALTER RASQUIN - the best offensive player for the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2017, stealing 32 of 40 (impressive in a 76 game league) and hitting slightly over .300.  The infielder, however, displayed little power.  Next year will give us a better read on this Little Rascal.

# 37 KEVIN KACZMARSKI - He disappointed me in AA, frankly, in 2017.  The Kingsport batting champ in 2015 at .354 had a good season last year, and I thought he would show he was Brandon Nimmo II in 2017 (great average and on base %, low power), but he hit just .274 in AA, albeit with a .370 on base %, and a .369 on base %. I was hoping to see about 50 points higher on all 3 readings in 2017.

 About to turn 26 already, the swift KK (49 steals in 303 career games) needs to break out with the bat in 2018 if he is to differentiate himself from the wannabe-in-the-bigs pack. Right now he looks like a good 5th outfield candidate for 2018 - except he seems a year away still.  Solid defender.

# 38 MATT OBERSTE - almost a clone of Kaczmarski, he is a good, but too low powered bat for a big first baseman, and so is likely to be an odd man out going forward.  He did hit .284/.360/.389 in his 2nd AA season, but it was only a slight improvement over his 2016 AA season.  While his league had tough pitching, the majors has much tougher pitching.  He is perilously close to topping out as a minor league journeyman unless he makes real changes.  And the Mets already have a slew of 3rd basemen.

# 39 KEVIN TAYLOR - this long shot infielder/ outfielder was drafted late, did not do well, played Indy ball, then signed with the Mets in 2016.  In 2 seasons, in High A and AA, he averaged .290/.380/.390.  He seems to me like Kevin Kaczmarski with less speed (just 2 steals) but more positional diversity.  In the Mets organization, he seems like a long shot to be a future utility player, because he has many competitors, some of whom at this point are just better.

# 40 STEVE NOGOSEK -also aquired in the Addison Reed trade, he was drafted by the Bosox in the 6th round of 2016.  Since then, the hard thrower is 6-7, 3.55 in 65 relief appearances, with a 1.25 WHIP and 109 Ks in 96 innings.  Hard to project future Mets bullpen arms for guys only in High A ball, but he plays in 2018 as a 23 year old, and my guess is he has a decent chance to crack the Mets bullpen sometime in late 2019.
Next article up - my # 41 thru # 45 prospects..




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Mack's Mock Draft - 10/22/17 - v3.0

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Morning folks.


Well, I’ve reached the point that I have now snagged 10 mock drafts, so we ought to be able to get a better picture at what might be going out there.

“Hot” trends are already beginning to develop. Some players were never mentioned on early mocks, but have climbed up the list.

Examples would be:

Auburn RHP Casey Mise, who has been picked as one of the top 10 picks in the last four mock drafts.

USF LHP Shane McClanahan, wo has been ranked in the top 10 four of the last five mock drafts taken.

Montverde Academy (FL) SS Nander De Salas, who has been ranked in the top 10 three of the last four mocks.

But none bigger than Stetson RHP Logan Gilbert. He wasn’t even mentioned in the first six mocks here, but, the last mock, Baseball Draft Report (10-7), had him as the number one overall pick in the draft.

Guys that have fell out of the top 10 more recently include Florida RHP Jackson Kowar, Stanford LHP Kris Bubic, and Clemson 1B/OF Seth Beer.

Only one player has been ranked in the top 10 in all 10 mock drafts… Florida RHP Brady Singer.

Here is the average of those 10 drafts  - 

   1.     RHP          Brady Singer           Florida
   2.     SS       Brice Turang   Santiago HS  (CA)                          
   3.     2B        Nick Madrigal  Oregon State                                 
   4.     RHP   Kumar Rocker  N. Oconee HS (GA)                       
   5.     1B-OF Seth Beer         Clemson                                          
   6.     OF      Jarred Kelenic         Waukesha West HS (WI)       
   7.     6RHP    Ethan Hankins        Forsyth Central HS (GA)    
   8.      RHP          Jackson Kowar       Florida                            
    9.     RHP   Casey Mise           Auburn                                            
   10. LHP          Konnor Pilkington Mississippi State                         11. OF            Joe Gray Jr.              Hattiesburg HS (MS)            12. RHP         Chandler Day          Vanderbilt  
13. C               Will Banfield           Brookwood HS (GA)                     
14. SS             Mateo Gill               Timber Creek HS (TX)                  
15. LHP          Shane McClanahan   USF                                               
16. RHP         Lukan Baker            TCU                                                   
17. SS             Nander De Sadas   Montverde Academy (FL)          
18. OF            Trevor Larnach       Oregon State                                 
19. RHP         Jason Bilous            Coastal Carolina                           
20. LHP          Kris Bubic                 Stanford                                          
21. LHP          Ryan Rolison           Mississippi                                     
22. SS             Kendall Simmins    Tattnall Sq. Academy (GA)        
23. LHP          Matt Liberatore     Mountain Ridge HS (AZ)            
24. SS             Sean Guilbe             Berks Catholic HS (PA)                
25. SS             Charles Mack          Williamsville East HS (NY)         
26. LHP          Justin Hooper         UCLA                                                 
27. 1B            Tristan Casas          Plantation HS (FL)                        
28. SS             Nolan Gorman       O’Connor HS (AZ)                         
29. OF            Griffin Conine         Duke                                                 
30. RHP         Owen Meaney        St. Thomas HS (TX)                       
31. RHP         Logan Gilbert         Stetson                                            
32. OF            Tristan Pompey      Kentucky                                         
33. OF            Jake Magnum         Mississippi State                          
34. OF            Brennan Breaux     LSU                                                    
35. RHP         Dallas Woolfork    Mississippi                                     
36. SS             Jeremy Eierman     Missouri State                               
37. LHP          Ryan Weathers      Loretto H (TN)                               
38. OF            Travis Swaggerty  South Alabama                             
39. 1B-OF     Greyson Jenista     Wichita State                                
40. LHP          Nick Sprengel         San Diego                                       
41. SS             Jimmy Glowenke   Marcus HS (TX)                             
42. RHP         Bryan Hoeing          Louisville                                         
43. 3B            Jonathan India       Florida                                             
44. OF            John Stowers          Louisville                                         
45. RHP         Austin Becker         Big Walnut HS (OH)                     
46. LHP          Cole Sands               Florida State                                  
47. 1B       Chayce Bryant     Redan HS (GA)                                                       
48. RHP         Slade Cecconi          Trinity Prep (FL)                            
49. RHP         Carter Stewart       Eau Gallie HS (FL)                         
50. OF            Parker Meadows   Grayson HS (GA)                                            51. RHP         Sean Hjelle              Kentucky                                         
52. C               Joey Bart                  Georgia Tech                                  
53. OF            Ryder Green            Knoxville Christian HS (KY)        
54. RHP         Mike Vasil                Boston College                              
55. C               Cal Raleigh              Florida State                                  
56. LHP          Luke Bartnicki        Walton HS (GA)                             
57. RHP         Mason Denaburg  Merritt Island HS (FL)                  
58. OF            Connor Scott           Plant HS (FL)                                  
59. RHP         Davis Sharp             Mill Creek HS (GA)                       
60. OF            Brock Hale               BYU                                                   
61. RHP         Ethan Stewart        Forsyth Central HS (GA)             
62. OF            Manny Gonzalez   Hernandez HS (PR)                       
63. 3B            Nate Elkhoff            Virginia                                           
64. RHP         Cole Wilcox             Heritage HS (GA)                          
65. OF            Jake McCarthy       Virginia                                           
66. LHP          Steven Gingery       Texas Tech                                      
67. OF            Elijah Cabell            Winter Park HS (FL)                     
68. 3B            Nick Northcut         Mason HS (OH)                             
69. SS             Brandon Dieter      South Hills HS (CA)                       
70. OF            Steele Walker         Oklahoma                                       
71. OF            Mike Siani                Penn Charter HS (PA)                  
72. RHP         Cole Winn                Orange Lutheran HS (CA)          
73. RHP         Colton Eastman     CSF                                                    

74. OF            Ashton Bardzelli    Hartford                                           
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10/21/17

Tom Brennan - MY METS PROSPECTS: # 31 - # 35

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Tom Brennan - MY METS PROSPECTS: # 31 - # 35

I expounded, in my own inimitable and erudite, fashion on each of my top 30 Mets' prospects one at a time over the past several weeks.  So please, stop snoring!!  Starting with this, 5 at a time to get us from # 31 to # 50.

Five more articles in this series, starting with the one today:


TODAY: PROSPECTS 31-35

AND THEN FOLLOWING ARTICLES:
  • # 36-40
  • # 41-45
  • # 46-50
  • Ten interesting players past # 50.




# 31 ADONIS UCETA - Uceta had an outstanding 2017 season in relief for Columbia and St Lucie, and held his own in 6 innings after a brief call up to AA.  

We have seen many a relief prospect who was cooking with gas falter upon reaching AA and especially AAA (e.g., Al Baldonado), which prevents me from elevating Uceta higher, but a strong 2018 could have him in the NY bullpen by next September. 

After all, Uceta (who frankly was mediocre prior to 2017) did his best Kenly Jensen impersonation in 54 innings of A ball this year: just 28 hits, 14 of 14 saves, 1.17 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 62 Ks.  He could leap to my top 10 in 2018 if he continues anything like that pace at higher levels in 2018.


# 32 LUIS CARPIO - dude only turns 21 next July, so his playing 2017 as a 19 / 20 year old in Full A ball is impressive. Glove man with little power, the 5'11" 190 IF only hit about .210 over the last 9 weeks of the season to finish up at .232/.308/.302.  He did flash speed, stealing 17 of 22.  21 errors at SS and 2B over 124 games is not unusual even for a glove guy at that age.  Seems his ceiling is Ruben Tejada, but time will tell.  Maybe I have him ranked too high at # 32.  I probably should have Kevin Kaczmarski here.



# 33 TIM PETERSON - great, great relief work for by Tim P for AA Binghamton - 41 games, 5-3, 1.14 ERA in 55 innings, 53 Ks, 0.78 WHIP.  (2 shaky early season relief outings in Vegas Hell, too, in the interests of full disclosure). 

Only ranked as low as 32 because he turns 27 in February, and why, therefore, is he not in Queens already?  Another start like this to his 2018 season, though, and he could be playing with the Mets before long, if there's room in the pen.



# 34 TONY DIBRELL - Tony was a 4th rounder who got off to a poor start with the Cyclones, surrendering 4 early HRs. The 6'3" 195 righty 21 year old evened the keel and in his last 9 games, went 15.2 IP, allowed 11 hits, and 7 walks, 5 earned runs and fanned 22.  I expect to see better in full season ball in Columbia in 2018, and arrival in the Mets' bullpen by 2020.




# 35 WUILMER BECERRA - slipped in my list all the way down at # 34?  I hope I am all the way wrong here, and that he belongs much higher.  

After a promising 2015 for Savannah at age 20, Becerra (the third guy in the trade that also brought Syndergaard and d'Arnaud to the Mets ) was playing with a bad shoulder early in 2016, but was still hitting an unreal .424 on May 9, 2016.  

He played some more, then needed mid-season surgery, as all Mets eventually seem to do, and returned in 2017 for a full season in St Lucie.  

His #s since May 9, 2016, though, have frankly been weak: 
627 at bats, hitting about .262, just 34 extra base hits (27 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HRs), 64 RBIs, and just 39 walks and a very high 171 Ks.  


Very substandard pop for a guy listed at 6'3", 245, my guess due to lingering shoulder issues, and a bad K to BB ratio.  


He has speed, having stolen 23 of 29 spanning this year and last, and will play all of next year as a 23 year old, so there is time for him to rebound and add a lot of power, some average, and cut down the Ks.  

Last year, I thought he would be an outfield starter in Queens by 2019.  Now, who knows if and when he shows up, and in what role.

Next article up: # 36 thru # 40.
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