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Love the Mets

Updated: 2018-01-18T11:00:01-05:00


Top 25 Mets Prospects for 2018: 3, Desmond Lindsay


Coming in at number 3 is an outfielder that might have the highest upside of any position player in the entire system. 3, Desmond Lindsay, CF Height: 5’11”, Weight: 200 lbs. DOB: 1/15/97 (20) Acquired: 2nd round, 2015 Draft (Out-Of-Door Academy, Florida) Bats/Throws: R/R 2017: 65 G, 251 PA, .220/.327/.388, 10 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 4/6 SB, 33 BB, 77 K When the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contact in November 2014, they did so knowing they would be sacrificing their first-round draft pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. While they missed out on the cream of the crop, Tommy Tanous made the most of their second-round draft pick, selecting Desmond Lindsay, a raw but potentially five-tool outfielder from Florida who likely would have been selected much earlier in the draft if his senior high school season hadn’t been plagued by hamstring issues. In the three seasons Lindsay has been in the system, he has shown tantalizing flashes of the potential that the Mets’ scouting team saw in him, but has had trouble staying on the field. Thanks to repeated lower body injuries- including what seems like chronic hamstring issues- the 21-year-old only has a total of 137 professional games under his belt. Most recently, he played 65 games with Low-A Columbia before having his season end in late July thanks to ulnar nerve transposition surgery, a procedure done to alleviate numbness in the hand and/or fingers. Though he is only listed at 5’11”, 200 lbs., “physical specimen” is one of the most common phrases used to describe Linsday- and he certainly looks bigger and stronger, especially in his legs. Thanks to very quick wrists, quick hips, and a short stride and stroke, Lindsay has a very fast swing. His athleticism and bat speed let him generate plus raw power, and burgeoning in-game power, as many of the balls that would have been line drives in past seasons began going out of the park in 2017. Even though his in-game power has increased, the up-the-middle approach he uses and his mostly one-plane swing will probably limit the amount of power that he will be able to manifest during live at-bats. Lindsay also brings with him an advanced eye at the plate, though he has sometimes shown a susceptibility to spin. He runs deep counts, displaying a bit of passivity at the plate, and until the 2017 season, was hard to strike out. Despite the fact that center field was relatively new to him when the Mets selected him, as he had mostly played first and third base in high school, Lindsay has looked extremely confident in center since day one and has taken to the position like a duck takes to water. He is a plus runner, and that raw speed translates into plus range in the outfield. His instincts and routes have improved since being drafted, and presumably, they will continue to develop as he plays more games going forward. Because of his chronic hamstring problems, there is a chance that his foot speed will eventually deteriorate to the point that he will need to be moved from center. In that case, Lindsay profiles more as a left fielder than a right fielder because his throwing arm is below average and would not be a fit in right. Greg Karam says: He still has the best raw ability in the system. This ranking is more based on upside than base case. If it all comes together it’s plus power, plus plate discipline, and average defense in center. An average regular outcome is not an unreasonable projection. Lukas Vlahos says: To me, Lindsay will be the most fun prospect in the system to follow in 2018, simply because he’s the only guy with five tool upside. Unfortunately, that tantalizing upside has been hampered by the same leg issues that made Lindsay available in the second round in 2015, and he developed a new penchant for striking out in Single-A. Still, if there’s a single player in the system you have to bet on to become an elite talent, Lindsay’s your guy, even if the probability of that outcome is very low. Steve Sypa says: Lindsay is the Mets’ Powerball lotto ticket. If everything goes right, the[...]

The Mets could still use bullpen help


The focus has been upon the infield since the Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez signings, but the Mets still have other needs. While most of the talk that’s surrounded the Mets over the past few days and weeks has been centered upon what the team will do with its position players, there hasn’t been much buzz about pitching. It sure sounds like the team will not entertain the notion of bringing in a starting pitcher, which is a shame considering how things went for the rotation last year and how incredibly well things would have to go for that unit to regain its status from two or three years ago. Even with that seeming willingness to roll the dice with the rotation, the Mets sure could still use some bullpen help. And even though the free agent market for relievers isn’t nearly as populated as it was back in November, there are still plenty of players out there. To be fair, the Mets added one reliever fairly early in the offseason when they signed Anthony Swarzak to a two-year, $14 million contract. While he hasn’t been consistently dominant in his major league career, he certainly was last year, as he put up a 2.33 ERA and 2.74 FIP in 77.1 innings of work. He’s part of the core of this Mets’ bullpen, as currently constructed, alongside Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins. Familia is coming off the worst season of his major league career, one that saw him pitch just 24.2 innings thanks to a combination of his suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy and a blood clot that required surgery, putting up an unusally high 4.38 ERA when he was on the mound. Ramos has been a good-to-great reliever every year of his major league career, but he is coming off his worst full single season performance to date. His 3.99 ERA and 4.40 FIP on the season were quite a bit higher than his career marks of 2.88 and 3.31. There’s really no knock on Blevins, at least, as he did more or less exactly what you’d have expected him to do with a 2.94 FIP and 3.12 ERA last year. His strikeout rates the past two seasons with the Mets have been the best marks of his career, too. Assuming health and typical levels of performance, that gives the Mets a solid enough foundation of a bullpen. If the team were to acquire a starting pitcher or two, some of its rotation options could make the move to the bullpen, perhaps filling it out to the point that no other moves would have to be made. And if everything breaks incredibly right, maybe that’s the plan: a rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler with pitchers like Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman working out of the ‘pen. But in a world where Addison Reed—one of the best relievers in baseball over the past couple of years—signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Twins, it wouldn’t seem wise to pass on bringing in some more help for the bullpen. At the time of this writing, there are 49 free agents, per the tracker at MLB Trade Rumors, whose names are in Fangraphs’ database. Many of the best relievers who hit the market have already been signed, but there are still plenty who had good seasons last year. Some of those who didn’t fare quite as well are only a year removed from dominance. Maybe it turns out that the Mets don’t need any of those guys. Maybe some combination of starters who don’t fit into the rotation and relief pitchers already in the organization—Josh Smoker, Paul Sewald, Hansel Robles, Chasen Bradford, or any one of the relievers acquired in the Mets’ trades last summer—could fill out the other three spots in the bullpen successfully. But given the way things have generally gone health-wise for the team and its players over the past few years, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to bring in one or two more good relief pitchers—especially since it seems like the price will be right for the Mets on nearly all of them. [...]

Mets Morning News: Bruce gets introduced, Michael Conforto could return in May


Your Thursday morning dose of New York Mets and MLB news, notes, and links. Meet the Mets Jay Bruce was officially re-introduced at Citi Field, and the slugger revealed he was always open to returning to New York especially after Mickey Callaway was hired. To make room for Bruce on the 40-man roster, reliever Kevin McGowan was designated for assignment. Sandy Alderson was pleased with Bruce’s return but admitted they are likely not done making moves. Sandy’s preference is to sign a free agent over making a trade, and there are still quite a few options for the GM to choose from. Alderson also addressed a few of the other concerns surrounding the Mets like the logjam at first base and the state of the bullpen. Bruce’s return is crucial since the Mets will be shorthanded in the outfield at the start of the season. They are hoping Michael Conforto will only miss the first month and make his return around May 1. Amed Rosario is already in Port St. Lucie and working on improving his plate discipline. The Columbia Fireflies introduced their new coaching staff for 2018. Around the National League East The Braves acquired reliever Shane Carle from the Pirates. Fish Stripes sat down for an interview with the tattoo artist that has many high profile clients from around the league. If the Phillies want to be competitive this season they will need Jerad Eickhoff to remain healthy and productive. Around Major League Baseball The Red Sox’s offer to J.D. Martinez was reportedly for five years and $100 million but agent Scott Boras said those reports were not true. The MLB Network aired a problematic segment about players with “bad” contracts. The timing is suspect since so many free agents are still unsigned and teams are becoming increasingly hesitant to hand out long-term contracts. The slow offseason has gotten to the point where one top free agent admitted he is willing to wait until the middle of the season before signing a contract. Gerrit Cole is happy to be away from the Pirates and on a team that is willing to invest in winning. Cole is not the only one unhappy with the Pirates. Their fans have started a petition to force owner Bob Nutting to sell the team. Yesterday at Amazin’ Avenue Aaron Yorke wrote about how Adrian Gonzalez is at the top of the depth chart at first base. Chris Flexen came in at number four on Steve Sypa’s list of the top 25 Met prospects. Allison McCague covered the Conforto news. Brendan Carducci reported on the ongoing Josh Harrison rumors. This Date in Mets History In 1938, Rogers Hornsby was snubbed by the Hall of Fame. He would become the Mets’ third base coach in their inaugural season, serving under Casey Stengel. [...]

Mets, Pirates haven’t had ongoing Josh Harrison trade talks



The Mets need an infielder, but it might not be Harrison.

Although the Mets and Pirates have talked about a trade for Josh Harrison, those discussions are not ongoing, per Mike Puma of the Post. Puma also says that the Mets believe the Pirates’ asking price for Harrison is too high because of his contract and that the Mets would be short on outfield depth if they traded Brandon Nimmo to acquire Harrison.

Regardless, the Mets still need a second baseman, and Harrison might be a good option to bolster their infield. At 30 years old, he is a two-time All-Star, and last year, he hit .272/.339/.432 with 16 home runs, 47 RBIs, a 104 wRC+, and 2.6 fWAR.

The Mets’ Opening Day infield currently figures to include Adrian Gonzalez at first, Amed Rosario at short, and Asdrubal Cabrera at either second or third base. Where Cabrera plays will depend upon whether or not the Mets acquire another infielder—and if so, what position he plays.

Mets expect Michael Conforto to be out until the start of May



The Mets have given a timetable for their star outfielder’s return.

The Mets expect Michael Conforto to return around May 1, according to remarks that Sandy Alderson made after the Mets’ Jay Bruce press conference. Although previous reports had indicated that Conforto might not be ready for Opening Day, this is the first time the Mets have given any concrete date for his possible return to the lineup.

Conforto’s All-Star season in 2017 was quickly derailed in late August, when he dislocated his shoulder swinging the bat, tearing his capsule. He underwent season-ending surgery soon afterward.

In the meantime, new Mets acquisition Jay Bruce should be seeing a lot of time in right field for the Mets, and there is no doubt that Conforto’s injury was a motivating factor in the Mets’ reunion with the lefty slugger. It is expected that Juan Lagares will get most of the playing time in center field in Conforto’s absence with Brandon Nimmo filling in as the fourth outfielder. Conforto’s timetable was perhaps also in the back of Sandy Alderson’s mind when he balked at the idea of trading Nimmo for Andrew McCutchen and—more recently—Josh Harrison. It is anticipated that Conforto will play center field upon his return to the Mets, with Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce at the corners.

Sandy Alderson reassured Mets fans that Conforto’s recovery was going well, though. “Everything’s going as planned,” he said. “There have been no setbacks.”

Mets designate Kevin McGowan for assignment



McGowan clears a spot on the 40-man roster for Jay Bruce

After allowing Jay Bruce to re-introduce himself to the public earlier today, the Mets designated right-handed pitcher Kevin McGowan for assignment to make room for Bruce on their 40-man roster. Given the construction of that roster, the move is not all that surprising.

Drafted by the Mets in the 13th round back in 2013, McGowan steadily rose through the team’s minor league ranks before making his major league debut last year. He threw just 8.2 innings for the Mets but had a 5.19 ERA and 6.39 FIP over that span. It was an incredibly small sample, but he struggled with walks and home runs at the major league level. He spent the grand majority of his year pitching out of the Triple-A bullpen in Las Vegas, where he threw 65.0 innings with a respectable 4.15 ERA and 4.77 FIP.

By designating McGowan for assignment, the Mets risk having another team claim him off waivers, assuming they don’t trade him. But if he hits waivers and clears, the Mets will be able to hold on to him and assign him to the minors, presumably back to Las Vegas.

Top 25 Mets Prospects for 2018: 4, Chris Flexen


Coming in at number 4 is the Mets’ top right-handed pitching prospect. 4. Chris Flexen, RHP Height: 6’3”, Weight: 250 lbs. DOB: 7/1/94 (23) Acquired: 14th round, 2012 Draft (Memorial High School, California) Bats/Throws: R/R 2017: St. Lucie (High-A): 3 G (3 GS), 12.2 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 3 ER (2.13 ERA), 3 BB, 13 K / Binghamton (Double-A): 7 G (7 GS), 48.2 IP, 28 H, 10 R, 9 ER (1.66 ERA), 7 BB, 50 K / NYM (MLB): 14 G (9 GS), 48.0 IP, 62 H, 44 R, 42 ER (7.88 ERA), 35 BB, 36 K After returning from Tommy John surgery in 2015 and posting excellent numbers, Chris Flexen took a slight step backwards in 2016. Though he crossed an important hurdle in eclipsing the 100-innining plateau for the first time, his numbers trended in the wrong directions and his stuff looked a bit less crisp. After having his 2017 season debut pushed back due to surgery to remove bone chips in his right knee, the 23-year-old Flexen put any and all reservations in the rearview mirror, dominating the Florida State and Eastern Leagues. Thanks to numerous injuries at the major league level, Flexen was called up to the Mets during the dog days of summer in 2017 and pitched miserably, retaining his prospect eligibility status by just two innings. Flexen’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, though the velocity does not always hold, and sometimes even backs up from the first innings on. It has late life, gets good arm-side tailing action, and can be commanded to all four quadrants of the strike zone. A key reason why Flexen was able to dominate High-A and Double-A batters was his development of a slider. Thrown in the mid-to-high 80s, the pitch was reminiscent of the “Warthen Slider”, with sharp, sudden bite. The emergence of his slider put less pressure for him to throw his mid-to-high 70s curveball perfectly, as his ability to command it and keep its 12-6 shape suffered since returning from Tommy John surgery. Rounding out his arsenal is a below-average changeup. Greg Karam says: We obviously can’t forget about his disastrous MLB debut that he clearly wasn’t ready for, but it’s worth remembering he only 48.2 innings in the high minors before making that debut. And they were dominant innings. He still has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter in the majors, with his floor being a useful bullpen arm. Lukas Vlahos says: The 2017 MLB performance was ugly, but if he hadn’t been rushed due to the Mets’ shredded roster and total lack of depth, I think Flexen would be first or second on most lists. He blew away the Eastern League with a dominant two pitch mix, tossing almost seven innings per start to quiet some of his durability concerns. Those questions returned in the majors of course, but I think with some more seasoning, Flexen can be a solid starter or dominant reliever if the stamina and changeup never improve. Steve Sypa says: Flexen had a pretty rough time in his MLB debut, but so did Sandy Koufax. Obviously, Chris Flexen is not Sandy Koufax, but the point is that if you gave up on a guy after a handful of innings, there’d be a lot of wasted potential in that discarded talent pile. I feel like I was a little down on Flexen last year, but I’m high on him going into 2018. The tools are there to have an impact on a major league ballclub in some capacity, be it in the starting rotation or bullpen. [...]

Adrian Gonzalez is on top of the Mets’ first base depth chart



If the season started today, Dominic Smith would likely be in the minor leagues.

The Mets didn’t spend half a million dollars on Adrian Gonzalez just so he can sit on the bench this year. The New York Post is reporting that the veteran first baseman is likely to be in the Opening Day starting lineup this March, while the intriguing youngster Dominic Smith is ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas.

Both Gonzalez and Smith were very bad major league players last year, so why not just play the kid? Before suffering through back injuries last year, Gonzalez had a long track record of playing in at least 150 games in each season that dates back to 2006. And only one of those 10 campaigns featured an on-base percentage below .340. Gonzalez might not be the power hitter he used to be, but if he’s healthy again in 2018, the Mets can extract a lot of value from the minimum contract.

Smith still has more upside, and he’ll probably be more exciting to watch in 2018, but his 73 wRC+ in 49 big league games last year isn’t encouraging in the short term. With both Miami and Pittsburgh going into tank mode this winter, New York is closer to a Wild Card berth than many fans realize, so it makes sense to play the safer Gonzalez in April.

The real question is how quickly the Mets will pull the plug on the veteran if his struggles from 2017 continue. It’s easy to imagine a future in which the team continues to play Gonzalez while he plays like a broken-down version of himself, but for now, the former Dodger’s track record gives him the benefit of the doubt.